Actus Reus Notes

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Actus reus: the ‘guilty act’ of an offence

Chain of causation: Provides a link between the initial act of the D and the prohibited consequence that has occurred. It forms part of the AR: It is not enough that the prohibited consequences has occurred, it must be caused by the D. * Established by a two-stage test:

1. Factual causation: Only basis, establish a prelimartary connection between act and consequences D’s act must be a sine qua non of the prohibited consequence(consequences would not have occurred without the D’s action) ’But for’ the D’s action, the consequences would not have occurred Case: White :

D wanted to kill her mother with a poison drink but the mother die before the poison drink took effect. LP: The D’s mother would have died anyway but for D’s action, thus he is not the factual cause of death, but he is charged with attempted murder.

2. Legal causation: Chooses the blameworthy
a. Case: Pagett
To avoid arrest, D used his girlfriend as a shield and firmed at armed police. The police fired back and killed the girl. LP: D’s act need not to be the sole cause of death provided it is a cause that has ‘contributed significantly to the result’ as he sets in motion the chain of events that led to death and it was foreseeable that the police would fire back. D is the most blameworthy

Intervening Act: Something that occurs after the D’s act that breaks the chain of causation and relieves the D’s responsibility for the prohibited consequences. Circumstances will only break the chain of causation if they are: a) An overwhelming cause of death

b) An unforeseeable occurrence
Case that BREAK the chain:
Jordan:
D stabbed the victim and his wound was healed by the time V arrived to the hospital but he died following an allergic reaction to the drugs given by the hospital. LP: D not liable as the original wound was healed and the treatment was ‘PALPABLY WRONG’ (Obvious) to break the chain of causation.

Case that DOESN’T...
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