Aftab and his girlfriend Yolande are members of an activist group called Foetus which is pledged to take direct criminal action, if necessary, as part of their campaign to abolish abortion. Aftab and Yolande agree a plan to assassinate the Home Secretary, Bill Jones, who has frequently spoken against the aims and methods of Foetus. They choose Christmas Eve as the date upon which they will achieve the most publicity for their organisation. However, unknown to Aftab and Yolande, Bill Jones has taken a last minute skiing holiday in Europe.
Bill has arranged to allow his identical twin brother, Fred Jones, to use his chauffeur driven limousine and stay in Bill's country house during the Christmas period. They lie in wait for Bill's car in a dark lane, pull out in front of it and force it to stop. Yolande jumps out and fires a shot into the car. It misses Fred and kills the chauffeur, Charles. Terrified, Fred leaps out the other side of limousine. Aftab chases Fred who jumps over the parapet of railway bridge on to the track below and is immediately killed by a passing train.
Consider what offences, if any, Aftab and Yolande have committed. This case is most complex and involves several different law issues which I will examine thoroughly. Firstly I will examine the criminal liability of Aftab. He and Yolande have both conspired to kill Bill Jones which is an offence in itself. Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 states that 'if a person agrees with any other person or persons that a course of conduct shall be pursued which, if the agreement is carried out in accordance with their intentions…
will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, he is guilty of conspiracy. ' As both Aftab and Yolande agreed to a plan, they are therefore guilty of this. During the attack, Aftab is the one who chases Fred, who he thinks is Bill towards the rail track. As Bill consequently falls and is killed by a passing train, this a issue of causation. This is best demonstrated in the case of Corbett. D head – butted and punched V before the latter ran off with D in pursuit. V fell into a gutter and was run over and killed by a passing car.
It was found that V's actions came within a foreseeable range and D's manslaughter conviction was upheld. What Aftab did is very similar but it could be argued that Fred's actions did not come into a foreseeable range of events. However, I think a jury would have enough evidence to convict Aftab of manslaughter on this basis. Aftab is also the secondary offender to the murder of the chauffeur, Charles. Even though it was Yolande who actually did the killing, it is set out in s. 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 that 'Whosoever shall aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of any indictable offence…
is liable to be tried, indicted and punished as a principal offender. This is demonstrated in the case of Chan Wing – Siu. Members of a gang went to the victim's house to commit robbery, arming themselves with knives. During the robbery, the victim was stabbed to death by a member of the gang and the defendants were convicted as accomplices to the murder. It was held that for an accomplice to be guilty of murder, it was sufficient to establish that he foresaw death or GBH. It is clear that Aftab foresaw a death as a result of the shooting, even if it wasn't Bill's.
Even though it was in fact, impossible to murder Bill Jones at the time, under the Criminal Attempts Act s1(2), a person can be found guilty of an attempt as shown in the cases of Shivpuri and Anderton v Ryan. In the latter, D purchased a video recorder. Later, she confessed to police who were investigating a burglary at her house that the video recorder was in fact a stolen one. Her conviction of attempted theft was quashed. This decision was overruled by Shivpuri. D was approached by a man who offered to pay him 1000 to receive a suitcase of drugs. He was arrested in the UK and then confessed they were drugs.
It was later found however that they were not drugs but was some sort of vegetable matter. He was convicted of attempting to be knowingly concerned in dealing in prohibited drugs. As long as D intended to commit the offence in question and had done an act which was more than preparatory to the offence he intended to commit, even though, unknown to him it couldn't be committed, he will be guilty of attempt, no matter why it was impossible to commit. Yolande did indeed try to attempt the impossible and would be convicted because of this. Yolande is also the principal offender in the murder of Charles, the chauffeur.
Murder carries a mandatory life sentence and she would be sentenced accordingly. Another issue which arises with the murder of Charles which is transferred malice. Because Yolande had the mens rea of murder and carried out the actus reus of murder, she would be guilty. It does not matter that she did not kill her intended victim. In the case of Pembliton, the mens rea and the actus reus did not match and so the defendant's conviction was quashed. D was involved in fight outside a pub. He separated himself from the group and threw a large stone and threw it in the direction of the others.
The stone missed and smashed a large window. His conviction of malicious damage was quashed as he did not intend to break the window. As the mens rea and the actus reus did not match, he could not be convicted. As Yolande had the mens rea and actus reus of murder, she would be convicted easily. Yolande would also be held as the secondary offender of the manslaughter and so the sentence given to Aftab for this would also be imposed on Yolande. In conclusion, it is virtually certain that Aftab and Yolande will be convicted of murder, manslaughter and conspiracy. Both defendants will inevitably get a life sentence.