Crime XXXXXXV – Gross Negligence Manslaughter VII

In R v Khan (1993) the defendants were drug dealers who supplied a girl with a class A drug (heroin). It soon became apparent that the girl needed medical attention but the defendants left her by herself and her body was found the next day dumped in a waste disposal ground.

As per the decision in R v Dias (2002) the defendants could not be found guilty of constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter and this includes situations where the dealer has prepared the solution and handed in to the victim in a syringe if the victim is “a fully informed and responsible adult”.

Here the victim was a minor (15 years old) and did not fall into the category of or cannot be classed as a fully informed and responsible adult.

The defendants were not convicted for constructive manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter but were found guilty instead, of involuntary manslaughter or reckless manslaughter by way of omission i.e. for failing to comply with a duty imposed by either common law or statute or for failing to act in the manner a reasonable man would have in the given circumstances.

Under manslaughter the prosecution has some discretion to go for the types of manslaughter that are available to obtain a conviction but it is important that the prosecution gets it right the first time because the courts might not allow or might be reluctant to allow a retrial.

The decision in R v Khan (1993) was followed in R v Evans (2009) and once again reaffirms the fact that a defendant can be convicted of gross negligence manslaughter if he or she fails to act in the manner that is required of him or her.

In R v Evans (2009) the defendant supplied drugs to her sister (heroin (a class A drug) and failed to called for assistance when her sister started to display symptoms of overdose and the sister died as a result.

Despite the fact that the victim injected herself with the solution the court applied the duty of care principle i.e. duty, breach and causation and decided that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care and breached the duty of care when she did not call for assistance when her sister went into overdose and that breach of duty had caused the death.

The fourth and fifth limbs i.e. that the defendant’s conduct must be so bad that a crime could be inferred and the element of badness or criminality i.e. the conduct of the defendant is so bad that it is not sufficient that a mere fine is imposed or the victim is compensated and amounts to a crime against the state, can sometimes be consolidated into a single element especially in instances where criminal behavior is blatant or obvious.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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