Reginald an ex army officer, served as a bomb disposal expert, plans a firework display for his son's birthday. Bought i?? 500 fireworks, adds additional chemicals to make it more spectacular. He puts the fireworks in the booth of his car; first, he stops over at the mechanics to get the exhaust welded. Mac, the mechanic starts work and sooner the fireworks explode and Mac is badly hurt with fragments in his groin and leg. He is taken to the hospital, and the fragments are removed. Next day, he is in pain doctor administers a drug without looking at his medical record.
The pain is relieved but Mac feels depressed. Later Mac opens his wound and is found dead the following morning. Before we can establish this, we have to define mental element. This is a state of mind the accused was in at the time of the act. The state of mind in this case, being the omission to act. Omission is an act of negligence, which leads to a minor act, or gross negligence, which leads to death. Negligence and gross negligence are both an act of omission, which has same state of mind but different result.
'Negligence can be defined as the omission to do something which a reasonable person guided upon these considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do, or doing something which a prudent or reasonable person would not do. ' (Lecture outline criminal law) Gross negligence is a higher degree of negligence of which the risk taking must have been obvious to the reasonable person, anything above negligence, which leads to serious hospitalisation, or death. Negligence is actus reus because it falls outside mens rea, as mens rea requires intention as the state of mind.
Lord Hewitt C. J. in Bateman states that "in order to establish criminal liability the facts must be such that, in the opinion of the jury, the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between the subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the state and conduct deserving of punishment. " (Clarkson and Keating 1998) A mere negligence would not ordinarily lead to a crime with the state unless it exceeds that which can be compensated for such as damage to property or a trip over the leg.
The test of gross negligence was applied in R v Prentice (1994) and approved in Adomako (1994) by the House of Lords. In Adomako, the defendant being an anaesthetist failed to notice a disconnection tube from the ventilator. He only noticed it four and a half minutes after the disconnection when an alarm sounded. He made some checks but still failed to notice the disconnection. The patient suffered cardiac arrest and died. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter, he appealed but his appeal was dismissed. It was held that the appellant was guilty of gross negligent for failing to notice or respond appropriately to obvious signs.
(Crim LR) Both of these cases were based on an earlier case of Bateman 1(1925) To establish an act of gross negligence, these are the test to follow (1) there must be the existence of a duty care (objective) and ordinary principles of the law of negligence apply to ascertain this. All persons are deemed to adhere to standards that avoid putting the lives of others at risk (2) there must be a breach of this duty causing death. (Lecture outline pg19) For this test to be proved, the defendants act must be below that of any standard and reasonable person, the act must also be in a way that amounts to death.
If the jury finds all these lacking, the act is gross negligence and they can infer criminal liability. Based on these findings or explanations, the juries are best directed on how to find the defendant. Total words=587 Before we can establish if Reginald caused the victims death, we first define causation. Causation is something that produces an effect. Somebody to blame for conduct or an act, which produces prohibited or unlawful results. To establish an actus reus of an offence in homicide, it must have to be proved that the defendant caused the death of the victim.
Also to establish the causation of an offence, it must be asked if the defendant's act was the cause of the specified consequence. It can also be asked 'But for what the defendant did would the consequence have occurred? In other to follow causation, the rules of causation have to be applied and these are; Eggshell skull: This means taking your victim as you find him/her. In this case, if injury or death was not foreseeable at the time of the defendants act, the defendant will still be blamed if the victim has a heart attack and dies or refuses to take medication.
This was in the case of R v Blaue (1975) where it was held, that the defendant caused the death of a Jehovah's Witness. The defendant stabbed the victim, the victim was taken to hospital. Blood transfusion was prescribed but victim refused, due to their religious believe. The victim died as a result. If the victim had taken the blood transfusion, it would have saved his life. For the fact, the victim refused to take the blood does not break the chain because if the defendant had not stabbed the victim probably there would not have been need for blood. Therefore, the defendant had to take his victim as he finds him.