Law 310-64311: The Legal Environment
Chapter 4: Question 12, p. 170
On July 5, 1884, four sailors were cast away from their ship in a storm 1,600 miles from the Cape of Good Hope. Their lifeboat contained neither water nor much food. On the 20th day of their ordeal, Dudley and Stevens, without the assistance or agreement of Brooks, cut the throat of the fourth sailor, a 17- or 18-year-old boy. They had not eaten since day 12. Water had been available only occasionally. At the time of the death, the men were probably about 1,000 miles from land. Prior to his death, the boy was lying helplessly in the bottom of the boat. The three surviving sailors ate the boy’s remains for four days, at which point they were rescued by a passing boat. They were in a seriously weakened condition. a.
Were Dudley and Stevens guilty of murder? Explain.
Should Brooks have been charged with a crime for eating the boy’s flesh? Explain. See The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Queen’s Bench Division 273 (1884). My response:
In this case I do feel the sailors Dudley and Stevens are guilty of murder due to their conspiracy to kill the weakened sailor Parker without Parker’s knowledge or consent. The sailors Dudley and Stevens did commit a wrongful act that would fall under criminal law of murder. This wrongful act was against the societal norm and is categorized as a crime (McAdams, 134). The sailors were not defending themselves against any harm that Parker could have caused as he was very weak and near death from dehydration and the lack of food and possibly suffering of high doses of sodium levels in his body from drinking the salt water. Here we clearly have Dudley and Stevens acting on their own judgment to take the life of their companion because of their terrible suffering from the lack of food and water and were not acting of a sound mind. It may be due to these terrible sufferings that led them to kill and eat the boy out of necessity. We may think it would be...
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