Omissions essay [50 marks]
The actus reus of a crime is the physical element and normally requires a positive, voluntary act. However, offences may be brought about by an omission; a failure to act when there is a duty to do so. The normal rule is that an omission cannot make a person guilty of an offence. There are exceptions to this rule; the failure to act can sometimes be the actus reus of a crime. There are 6 ways in which this can exist.
A statutory duty: an Act of Parliament can create liability for an omission. For example, failing to report a road traffic accident under the Road Traffic Act. Another example is failing to stop a dangerous dog entering a place it is not permitted to be and injuring somebody under the Dangerous Dogs Act. This was shown in the case of Greener where D omitted to take a positive step to stop his dog entering a garden and biting the face of a young child. A contractual duty: a duty based on an official position, usually created through a contract of employment This was shown in Pittwood where D, a railway-crossing keeper, omitted to shut the gates with the result that a person crossing the line was killed by a train. D was guilty of manslaughter because he had a contractual duty due to his employment to shut the gates. This omission resulted in the death of V. This was also shown in Adomako where D owed a contractual duty of care to a man in an operation, and omitted to act when a tube supplying oxygen became disconnected resulting in his death. A duty because of a relationship: This is usually a parent-child relationship as a parent has a duty to care for a young child. This can also exist the other way around i.e. when a grown-up child is caring for an elderly parent. A case example showing this is Gibbins and Proctor where D and his mistress deliberately starved D’s daughter to death by omitting to feed her. D and his mistress had a duty to feed her because D was his parent and the mistress undertook to look after...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document