Thus far we have looked at the actus reus (or the guilty act) to successfully obtain a conviction for constructive manslaughter. The act has to be unlawful and the unlawful act must satisfy the following criteria:-
- The unlawful act must be unlawful in criminal law and not just civil law
- The act must be an overt act and an omission or a failure to do something when there is a duty imposed by either common law or statute to do so will not suffice see R v Lowe (1973)
- The act must not merely result in physical injury but must be an act that the reasonable man would view as serious and an act that as far as the reasonable man is concerned would lead to dire consequences. Even if there is an assault it may not be sufficient to give rise to a conviction of constructive manslaughter see R v Arobekieke (1988).
The test that that is used to determine if the act may lead to serious consequences or could be fatal is the objective test (or the reasonable man’s test)
- The unlawful act need not be directed at the victim see R v Larkin (1942) and R v Mitchell (1983) and
- The act must result in the death of the victim but the death must not be due to an inherent illness or a preexisting medical condition see R v Dawson (1985) and R v Carey & Ors (2006)
Let us now look at the mens rea or the mental element that is needed or required to obtain a conviction for constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter.