Crime XXXXXXIV – Gross Negligence Manslaughter VI

DPP v Rowley (2003) further clarifies the law on convicting for gross negligence manslaughter in the absence of subjective recklessness.

In DPP v Rowley (2003) the victim was suffering from quadriplegia, microcephaly and epilepsy and was in residential care. He was left unattended in a bath and drowned as a result. The CPS decided not to prosecute and his mother brought an action challenging the decision of the Crown Prosecution Services.

In the absence of subjective recklessness it was held that once the three elements of negligence were satisfied i.e. duty, breach and causation and it could be established that the defendant’s conduct was so bad that a crime could be inferred, there is a fifth element that also needs to be satisfied.

In order to convict the jury must be able to ascertain or discern an element of badness or criminality for example as in R v Adomako (1994) where the defendant had failed to avert an obvious and serious risk.

If the defendant in the case had been paying attention the defendant would have noticed that the pipes had become disconnected and would have been able to prevent the death.

The conduct of the defendant or the omission must be so bad that it is obvious to the reasonable man that the conduct was criminal and if the CPS fails to find that element of badness or criminality than it can refuse to prosecute.

The conduct must be so bad that it is not sufficient that a mere fine is imposed or the victim is compensated but calls for criminal punishment i.e. it amounts to a crime against the state.

The mother’s appeal against the decision of the CPS not to prosecute was unsuccessful.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *