Crime XXXXXXV – Involuntary Manslaughter XI

It is also easier to establish gross negligence manslaughter in instances where the defendant owes the victim a duty of care and death resulted from a failure of the defendant to comply with that duty of care.

For example, a train driver or even a bus driver for the matter, owes his or her passengers a duty of care to ensure that the train or the bus is driven in the manner that is prescribed by the law and that all the safety requirements are complied with.

In R v Singh (1999) the landlord left his son in charge of his property in Ipswich while he was away and during that time one of the tenants died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The defendant was convicted and the defense appealed.

The conviction was upheld. The defendant owed the victim a duty of care to ensure that the amenities on his property were in good working order and a failure to do so had led to the death of the victim.

In R v Bowles and Bowles (2000) (Corporate Manslaughter) the defendants were owners of a haulage company. The driver of one of their lorries had been working excessively long hours, above what was advisable or allowed, and as a result fell asleep while driving and caused an accident on the motorway which killed two motorists. At the time he was in a dangerously exhausted state and had been driving in excess of 60 straight hours without proper breaks or rests.

The owners of the company were charged and convicted of corporate manslaughter. It was their failure to adhere to proper guidelines and safety measures that had caused the accident.

In R v Great Western Trains (2000) (Corporate Manslaughter) the automatic warning system on a train was not working and was the cause of a train crash between a passenger train moving from Swansea to London and a freight train. 125 people were killed in the ensuing accident.

The driver had ignored two warning signals and was not paying attention at the time but despite that the prosecution was unable to prove that any senior executive of the company was responsible for the accident and the requirement that an individual of the company be guilty of manslaughter (doctrine of identification) before the company can be held to be liable or responsible was not satisfied. As it stands it is a prerequisite to establishing corporate manslaughter.

Nonetheless, the company pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for the accident.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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