Homicide: Unlawful Killing of a Person

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Homicide
• ·Law: X's actions toward Y may constitute homicide, which pursuant to s 277 is unlawful killing of a person. Depending on the circumstances, under s 277 an unlawful (s268) killing is either murder or manslaughter. Killing is defined in s 270 as causing the death of another directly or indirectly by any means. Death is defined under 13C of the Interpretation Act 1984 (WA) as the irreversible cessation of circulation or brain function. A person capable of being killed is defined under s 269 as a person completely proceeded in a living state from their mother.‘Y is a person. Y is dead’

• Variable for s269: Where an injury is done to an unborn child who then dies after birth it must be established that the prior injuries are a valid cause of death. In the case of Martin v R it was held that a causal link can be drawn between injury to a foetus and the death of that child after birth. Specific reference was made in the case to s 271 where “a child dies in consequence of acts done … by any person before or during birth, the person who did … such act is deemed to have killed the child.” • Causation – Proof of causation requires satisfaction of both factual and legal elements (Royall; Krakouer) [what you need to look at is the causation between the act and the death, so when you apply the tests, you pick a specific action of the accused. If there is no action, then you look at omission.] ◦

Factual - Generally easy to establish factual causation under the 'but-for' test (Royall). Variable: However, it does not apply in cases of an innocent agent (White v Ridley) or in cases of omission, unless there was a duty and the actions are reasonable in the circumstances (duties ss 262-267). [Apply to facts by stating very precisely .’but for Y doing specifically this, X would not have done this and hence not died]


Legal – Royall established four tests for legal causation. In difficult cases the operative and substantial cause is best.
(1)
Operating and substantial cause
(2)
Natural consequence
(3)
Reasonable foresight
(4)
Common sense (Campbell)

Variable for causation: Behaviour of accused need not be sole cause of death (Krakouer)

Novus Actus Interveniens:
(1)
Section 272 and Royall: actions of escaping victim will not
break the chain if fear of death or harm is reasonable and well founded. (2)
Section 275: medical treatment of victim will not break chain if reasonably proper in circumstances and applied in good faith. Treatment includes all acts and omissions in the management of the patient (Cook). Turning off life support is not novus actus; original assault is still operative and substantial cause of death (Kanish).

(1)
Section 23B and R v Martyr: Abnormality or weakness in
victim will not break chain. Must take victim as you find them. (3)
R v Hallet: natural event will not break chain if it is
reasonable foreseeable.

(4)
R v Pagett: Actions of third party will not break the chain if actions are an obvious result of what first person did.
(5)
Section 261: Consent to death is immaterial to issue of
responsibility.
• Intention: The fault element in s 279(1)(a) is an intention to kill, and under s 279(1)(b) it is an intention to do bodily injury which endangers or is likely to endanger life. Intention is not defined in the code. In R v Willmot intention is defined as having the consequence of an action in mind. The intention is inferred from the act if the immediate consequences are obvious and inevitable (Parker v The Queen). ·

Code:

s279(1)(a): intention to kill is murder

s279(1)(b): Intention to cause bodily injury of a nature that endangers or is likely (Hind v Harwood) to endanger life is murder.

s279(1)(c): (1) Death is caused by an act; (2) done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose; (3)which is of the nature to be likely to endanger life. A 'further' unlawful purpose other than killing (Stuart v The Queen). Likely is define as a substantial (real and not remote)...
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