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    HI there,

    I have a question that i will like to seek advice on.

    A goes to B's house to settle a dispute. A fight broke out, and A repeatedly smashes B's head with a brick. He then leaves B who is bleeding profusely on the floor and left the house. Minutes later, an earthquake occurs, and the house collapse, crushing B - who is not dead at the time of collapse - to death.

    Discuss A's liability.


    My take is that the earthquake will constitute an "intervening act" because it is an abnormal natural event. That said, A's act is still an "operating cause" at the time of death. In addition, i am unsure which of the following will A be liable for: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder or attempted manslaughter (is there even such an offence?!) It is clear that A has intention to kill (and thus liable for murder), and B by virtue of him bleeding profusely, will die sooner or later anyway, though at the moment the house collapsed, he is still alive (no death yet, and therefore liable for attempted murder?).
    Can fellow forummers advise me please?

    Thanks.
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    Very similar to a question asked a couple of days ago - also titled 'Causation' - have a search for it.
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    (Original post by apcycles)
    HI there,

    I have a question that i will like to seek advice on.

    A goes to B's house to settle a dispute. A fight broke out, and A repeatedly smashes B's head with a brick. He then leaves B who is bleeding profusely on the floor and left the house. Minutes later, an earthquake occurs, and the house collapse, crushing B - who is not dead at the time of collapse - to death.

    Discuss A's liability.


    My take is that the earthquake will constitute an "intervening act" because it is an abnormal natural event. That said, A's act is still an "operating cause" at the time of death. In addition, i am unsure which of the following will A be liable for: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder or attempted manslaughter (is there even such an offence?!) It is clear that A has intention to kill (and thus liable for murder), and B by virtue of him bleeding profusely, will die sooner or later anyway, though at the moment the house collapsed, he is still alive (no death yet, and therefore liable for attempted murder?).
    Can fellow forummers advise me please?

    Thanks.
    Hi

    One thing you must know about natural events: a coincidental and unforeseeable route involving natural events will not normally be a novus actus interveniens when the ultimate result was intended by the defendant.

    (From Simester) e.g. D shoots at V on a mountainside intending to kill her. He misses, but the noise of her shot triggers an avalanche in which V is swept away and killed. D is guilty of murder. He has brought about the intended result, and cannot escape responsibility by pointing to the unexpected causal detour of the means that she herself inititated.

    In your example, A will be liable for murder. He had the necessary MR which intended the AR and intended the outcome of death anyway; the unforeseeable natural event brought that about; he cannot escape liability.

    As for whether there is such thing as attempted manslaughter - I don't think it exists in English law. I can't think where one would use it - perhaps if you were in the act of killing someone unlawfully (with the necessary partial defence) and you were stopped in the act. But even then, you'd probably be charged with a non-fatal offence.

    Remember, manslaughter is an unlawful killing without malice express, or implied. Voluntary manslaughter = MR+AR+EXCUSE (e.g. diminished responsibility, loss of control). Involuntary manslaughter = NO MR + AR

    Also, one cannot be charged with manslaughter - you get charged with murder and then if your partial defence plea is successful then your conviction will be reduced to a manslaughter conviction.

    Hope this helps!
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    Hi Lesbionic,

    Thanks, it really helps a lot!
 
 
 
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