Crime XXXXXXII – Involuntary Manslaughter VIII

Medical staff for example aestheticians can be convicted of manslaughter if they are found to be grossly negligent in their work and if their negligence has led to the death of a patient.

In R v Adomako (1994) the accused was an aesthetician who was in charge of administering anesthetics during an operation. While in surgery an oxygen pipe got disconnected and the patient died from the resulting complications. The accused was charged and convicted for manslaughter. The accused appealed.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the conviction but the House of Lords, on further appeal, upheld the conviction on the grounds that the cause of death was not recklessness but gross negligence in breach of a duty.

R v OLL Ltd (1994) (also known as the Lime Bay canoe disaster) (Corporate Manslaughter) the company sent a group of students into the sea, during rough weather, when conditions were harsher than normal, and as a result the canoe capsized and four of the students drowned. The defendant, the managing director of the company was charged and convicted of corporate manslaughter.

In this instance it was possible to narrow down the “controlling mind” and the mishap would not have taken place had it not been for the actions or the inactions of the controlling mind and it implies that the person in charge or the controlling mind could have prevented the mishap if he or she so desired.

It is easier to narrow down the controlling mind in smaller companies where the decision is made by a single person as opposed to large corporations where more than one person is involved in the decision making process.

In R v Henderson (1995) (Corporate Manslaughter), two boats, the Marchioness and the Bowbelle collided on the River Thames and the collision resulted in substantial loss of life.

An inquiry was held after the accident and the cause of the accident was determined to be a failure by the boat crews to keep an adequate lookout. Upon further examination the prosecution decided that there was sufficient evidence to bring a charge of manslaughter.

The case went to trial and two juries failed to reach a verdict or find sufficient grounds to convict the defendant.

  • It might be worth, for the sake of argument, in order to narrow down the controlling mind, to ask the question who among all those that were implicated could have stopped or prevented the accident and then ask:-
  1. If that person had sufficient authority to prevent the accident and
  2. If the accident would have occurred regardless of whether that person took the necessary steps to prevent the accident or otherwise.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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