Criminal Law and Social Factors

The aim of this case is to present a contemporary criminal case. The case must have occurred in the last ten years. It must be an indictable offence, a more serious criminal charge where the defendant has the right to trial by jury and has been found guilty. The analysis of the case will be carried out through the extent which the law balances the rights of victims and offenders. The case which I have chosen is a major indictable offence of Murder and Manslaughter- starvation of a child.

Name of Case: Ebony-R v BW & SW (no3) – Starvation of child Below is a brief overview of the offence: The offenders, SW and BW were the parents of a seven year old girl known as Ebony. She had been diagnosed with autism, and died on November 2007 as a cause of starvation and neglect over a twenty month period. Several doctors who gave evidence at trial of her parents testified that Ebony suffered from the most severe cause of malnutrition they had ever seen.

After a five week trial, the girls, mother SW was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and the girl’s father BW was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years. Role of courts in the case The courts involved in this case was the NSW supreme court as this court has original criminal jurisdiction to murder, manslaughter and attempted murder which is relevant to this case.

Regardless of the Supreme Court having authority to hear matters from lower courts, there was no appeal from lower courts as this case was taken directly to NSW supreme court. The hearing for this case in court was on 19th May and 23rd June 2009. Elements of crime It was alleged that there was a deliberate omission to provide sufficient nourishment to the child and omission to obtain medical attention for the child and these were occupied by an intention to kill (mens rea) or where the accused was aware that their action could lead to a crime being committed, but chose to take the course of action anyway.

The crown was required to establish that the accused were negligent because he/she breached a duty of care by not providing sufficient nourishment and medical attention for the child. The crown was also required to establish that the degree of negligence was so serious that it could be treated as criminal conduct. To be charged with murder for both offenders, the issue raised for the jury was to determine whether there was an intention to kill or realise that death could have occurred.

The case for both offenders was that there was no intention to kill. Factors affecting criminal behaviour In relation to the case, there have been psychological factors, social factors and economic factors which were associated with the two different offenders SW (Mother) and BW (Father). SW Mother: Psychological and Social factors SW had a range of psychological and social factors which had an impact on her life. SW had given history about herself in order to prove her innocence had reflected her means of life leading to the death of her daughter. She claims that she was under the control of her husband (BW) and had lost her capacity to her own behalf and couldn’t do much in caring for the children.