Within Intervening acts, there must be a direct link from Charles conduct to the consequence. This is known as the chain of causation. In some situations something else happens after the defendants act or omission and if this is sufficiently separate from the defendant conduct, it may break the chain of causation. However if the victims reaction is unreasonable, then this may break the chain of causation.
Where the threats to Derek are serious, then it is more likely for it to be reasonable for him to jump into the river. In deciding whether the Charles intended death or grievous bodily harm, the jury must consider evidence of provocation with all other relevant evidence. If they are not satisfied that he had the necessary mens rea, they must acquit. But even if they decided he did have mens rea, provocation may still be a defense to a charge of murder at common law, entitling Charles to be convicted of manslaughter.
The common law was stated by Devlin J in what the court of criminal appeal described as a 'classical direction' as follows; ' Provocation is some act, or series of acts, done by the dead man to the accused, which would cause in an reasonable person, and actually causes in the accused, a sudden and temporary loss of self-control, rendering the accused so subject to passion as to make him or her for the moment not master of his mind. ' The defense of provocation is now set out in s 3 of the homicide Act 1957 which states;
'Where, on a charge of murder, there is evidence on which the jury can find that the person charged was provoked (whether by things said or done or by both together) to lose his self control, the question whoever the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did shall be left to be determined by the jury" This can impose a two stage test for the jury to apply; 1. A subjective test- did the defendant lose his self control? 2. An objective test-would a reasonable man have lost his self-control? Church(1966)
At common law, all unlawful homicides which are not murder are manslaughter. The two main groups which are designated 'voluntary' and 'involuntary' manslaughter. The distinction is that voluntary manslaughter Charles may have the malice aforethought of murder, but the presence of some defined mitigating circumstances reduces his crime to be less serious grade of criminal homicide. Where these circumstances are present, then Charles may actually intend to kill and do so in pursuance of that intention and yet not be guilty of murder.
At common law, voluntary manslaughter occurred in one case only, where the killing was done under provocation. But now two further categories must be added. Under the homicide act 1957, killing is now manslaughter and not murder, not without the presence of malice aforethought. Unlawful Act manslaughter 1. The defendant must do an unlawful act 2. The act must be dangerous on an objective test 3. The act must cause death 4. The d must have the required mens rea for the unlawful act.
The Defendant must have mens rea for the unlawful act but it is not necessary to prove that the D foresaw any harm from his act. Newbury and Jones (1976) This is also know as constructive manslaughter because the liability for the death is built up or constructed from that facts that the defendant has done a dangerous unlawful act which caused the death, Lamb (1967), This makes Charles liable even through he did not realize that death or injury might accrue. Franklin (1883)
Malice aforethought can be proven, already when an intention to cause grievous bodily harm to Derek by chasing him out of the bar, which sets off a chain of advents leading him to cause the victim serious interference with his health and safety. According to Lord Denning; 'The criminal act must be identified and then proved, including of course the appropriate mens rea. The accused must do a dangerous act with the intention of frightening or harming someone, or with realization that it is likely to frighten or harm someone.
With this the act which is intended to frighten Derek is not always necessarily a dangerous act and if it is, requires to be questioned by the objective test. ' Fright, shock and harm are now acknowledged to be actual bodily harm. But it would be hard to prove that the risk of such harm would inevitably be recognized by all sober and reasonable people, especially as the law requires expert evidence to prove it. If the opinion of the court finds that the act was likely to cause death or serious injury and therefore was certainly 'dangerous.
The court may assume without deciding that in the context of manslaughter 'harm' includes injury to the person through the operation of shock emanating from fright. So it seems that it's not enough that the act is likely to frighten. It must likely to cause such shock as to result in injury. It must be also proved that Charles, by his own act or unlawful omission, caused death. Under the rule of homicide act, where on a charge of murder there is evidence on which the jury can find that Charles was provoked due to the attack on his friend which made him enraged with anger to loose self-control.
Although the question whether the provocation was enough to make a 'reasonable' man do as he did shall take into account everything both done and said according to the affect which, in their opinion, it would have on a reasonable man.
Jacqueline Martin, 'Criminal Law for A2,'Hodder, London (2006). Ashworth, A. (1995) Sentencing and Criminal Justice. 2ndedition. London: Butterworth's Dressler, J. (2001), Understanding Criminal Law (3rd ed. ), New York: Lexis Internet resources.