unlawful the court of criminal appeal in
unlawful actand gross negligence manslaughter. Any person who causes the death of thevictim without the presence of the requisite mensrea will be liable for theoffence.
The offence of unlawful act manslaughter was definedby the court of criminal appeal in the case of Larkin1 .Humphreys Justice explained how liability for manslaughter arises through anunlawful act: “Where the act which a person is engaged in performingis unlawful , then if at the same time it is a dangerous act that is, an actwhich is likely to injure another person, and quite inadvertently the doer of the act causes the death of thatother person by that act, then he is guilty of manslaughter.”It is a common law offence and its types are defined bythe House of Lords in DPP V Newbury and Jones2: The act must be Intentional, Unlawful, dangerous andit must cause the death of the victim.In order to make a person liable for the offence, theprosecution must prove that the act is an intentional act and not an omission.In the case of R V Lowe3 it was held that an omission can neverbe sufficient for the conviction of unlawful act manslaughter.
The defendant must commit a criminal offence, whichmeans that the act should be unlawful in the eyes of law. In the case ofLamb4,the Court of appeal held that thereshould be some proof of criminal offence and in this case there was no proof sothe defendant cannot be liable for the offense.The act committed must be dangerous from the pointof view of reasonable man and not the defendant. Lord Salmon stated in the caseof Church5 that: “In judging whether the act was dangerous the test isnot did the accused recognize that it was dangerous but would all sober andreasonable people recognize its danger”.
The final requirement is that the defendant must causethe death of the victim and there should be no intervening act which breaks thechain of causation. In the given question Keith has injected Janis withthe syringe of heroine and Kurt has injected himself but the syringe isprepared by Keith, both kurt and Janis were willing to inject heroine intotheir body. According tothe case of Cato6when the victim dies as a result of injecting the class A drug by the defendantthen it is considered as malicious administration of a poison or noxious thingso as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm, contrary to sec.23 ofthe offences against the persons act 1861.
The consent of victim is no defensein this case. So in this case Keith will be liable for the death ofJanis and will be convicted for the offence of unlawful act manslaughter andaccording to my viewpoint also Keith should be liable as he may not be knowingthat the heroine is contaminated but he committed a unlawful act by injectingheroine into the body of Janis which was an intentional and dangerous act andit causes death of Janis, so he should be liable for the same. The act of keithwill be considered unlawful for the purpose of unlawful act manslaughter.On the other hand, Kurt self injected the syringe ofheroine which was prepared by Keith.
The court of appeal held in the case of Dias7 that: “Neither thestatute nor the common law provided for an offence of injecting oneself with acontrolled drug and thus the defendant could not be secondary party to this” In the case of Rogers8 the Court of appeal held that if thevictim self injects any controlled drugs then the defendant cannot be heldliable as a secondary party to that injection.However, in the case of Finlay9 the court of appeal took a differentview that the defendant could be the secondary party to the injection and canbe made liable for the offence even if it was self injection by the victimbecause such self injection will be considered foreseeable.This confusion was cleared by the House Of Lords in the leading case of Kennedy10(No. 2):The defendant cannot be made liable for the offence ofunlawful act manslaughter if the victim died because of self injection as thevoluntary act of the victim breaks the chain of causation and supplyingcontrolled drugs to the victim will not amount to unlawful act for the purposeof unlawful act manslaughter.
But firstly the decision of the court of appeal inKennedy11(1999) Crim LR 65 was against the defendant as the court says that the act of thedefendant was not only limited to the supply of the drugs. So in this case keith will not be liable for the deathof kurt and in my viewpoint also kurt was fully willing to self inject theheroine into his body, the act of supplying the syringe of heroine to kurt doesnot amount to be unlawful for the act of unlawful act manslaughter.1 (1944)29 Cr App R 182 1977)AC 5003 (1973)QB 7024 (1967)2 QB 9815 (1966)1 QB 596 19761 WR 1107 (2001)EWCA Crim 29868 (2003)EWCA Crim 9459 (2003)EWCA Crim 386810 (No.2) (2007) UKHL 38: 11 (1999)Crim LR 65