study involves a property owner named Rosa which had failed to install fire
alarm system for financial reasons moreover there was an outcome of fire in the
building by one of the residents (Patti) who was smoking a cigarette in the
balcony and throw it out which unfortunately landed in an wheelie-bin with full of dry rubbish which resulted on 20 of residents
being killed by smoke
inhalation and exposure to the flames including Patti, it was come to the
intention that this incident would not have happened if all the smoke detectors
of this essay is to provide legal advice to the landlady (Rosa) as to degree or
nature to the criminal liability that she should expect to be exposed to when
the case is taken to court.
begin by discussing criminal liability and its types moreover it will focus
specifically on the types of homicide for the reason being that there is death
involved in this case, then it will move to give further information about
types of homicide and different penalties set for it, and lastly to advise the
client on which type of homicide she might possibly reliable for, and the legal
defense for the criminal offence to assets whether there is a possible defense
that Rosa can have when the case is taken to court.
As with any
criminal offense there must be two parts to the crime, which are the Actus Reus
and the Mens Rea.
criminal legal system in the United Kingdom in order to assist the criminal
liability of a person, the courts will look through the actus rea and mens rea
which are the physical act of the crime and the mental intent to do a crime1.
Reus is every one of the components of a situation including distinctive
circumstances and consequences, Nevertheless, it excludes the mental component
of the crime, to have the capacity to convict the blamed for their conduct,
their act must be wilful2.
Rea in the other hand which also is known for an guilty mind, is the mental
component of the crime and requires proof that the defendant mind was in a
guilty set of position, before the defendant can be sentenced for a wrongdoing
Mens rea is
divided in to four parts which are as followed direct and oblique intention,
recklessness and negligence4.
direct intention is When a person has a desire to take an action, Oblique
intent is the point at which it is conceivable to anticipate any consequence
that may originate from any action where the test that it is been used in order
to determine whether there was an oblique intent is taken from the case R V Woolin5,
recklessness refers to the taking of an unreasonable risk, and lastly negligence
is the outcome caused by the act made by a person which fell beneath the
standard of a reasonable person6.
As by the
actions that took a place by Rosa led to death of 20 residents, there are two clear
potential criminal liability which are murder and manslaughter.
meaning of murder is ‘the unlawful executing of an individual in the queen peace,
with malice aforethought7.
in some circumstances killing of another being
may be consider as lawful for example, killing under self-defence or when an
death sentence is set by court for an individual, such order of execution is
classed as lawful8
furthermore, Transferred malice does not amount to murder9,
moreover Soldiers and officers may slaughter throughout their duties
however will be liable for murder in the event that they go past beyond their
obligation or use unnecessary power10,
and killing under queen peach it is not consider as unlawful and it is
acceptable for human beings killing their enemy at the time of war11,
also when a person kills or is a pert in to a killing and she/he is suffering from an abnormality of
mental functioning and it can be recognized as medical conation it does not
amount to murder12.
In the United Kingdom, a murder conviction carries a
mandatory life sentence13,
and for clear and obvious murder cases the judge passing sentence cannot pass a
lesser sentence regardless of how moderating the conditions be14, However,
it might differ based on the age of the criminal15 and
the type and complexity of the murder.
There are three partial defenses to murder which can and may
be used to reduce the conviction to manslaughter, which are contained in the
homicide act 1957 and comprise of diminished responsibility16,
and suicide pact18.
To convict a person to be liable for murder there are few
elements such as intention to kill, cause grievous bodily harm(GBH)19,
constructive malice, express and implied malice, Direct intention, Indirect
intention/oblique intention and more20.
Moreover, manslaughter covers all the unlawful homicide which
is not murder.
Manslaughter is the crime of executing an individual without
malice aforethought, or in conditions not amounting to murder.
There are two types of manslaughter voluntary and involuntary,
voluntary manslaughter is where the defendant has an intention to slaughter or
to cause GBH yet there were relieving conditions implying that it does not
amount to murder.
There are certain reasons in place why manslaughter does not
amount to murder and it might sound a little unusual at first.
There are few type of voluntary manslaughter, where there Is
an intention to kill or at least cause GBH to the victim.
The main sort of voluntary manslaughter it is based on the
loss of control and replaces the old law of provocation.
Loss of control originates from s. 54 of the Coroners and
Justice Act 2009 and has three principle components that may convict criminal
liability of a person who killed or was a party to a killing from murder to
manslaughter these elements are as followed, Loss of control, the loss of
control had a qualifying trigger, a man of D’s sex and age yet reasonable
tolerance might have acted a similar way.
Previously law of provocation required that loss of control
to be sudden and temporary ((R v
Ahluwalia 1992 4 All ER 889)), but as per (s. 54(2)) of the Coroners and
Justice Act 2009
the loss of control no longer
has to be sudden and transitory furthermore, according to s. 54(4), in
the event that defendant acted in a considered desire for revenge they cannot
depend on the defense. This maintains the principle seen in R v Ibrams &
Gregory (R v Ibrams & Gregory (1982) 74 Cr App R 15)
secondly there is qualifying trigger, In the past, the qualifying trigger could have
been showed through anything that was said or done however Doughty 1986
demonstrated that this concept was excessively wide. Presently there must be
dread of serious violence (s. 55(3)). Things said or done can still work as a
trigger however just where they made grave conditions or gave the defendant a
legitimate feeling of being wronged (s. 55(4)). Be that as it may if the
defendant really actuated this, then this cannot act as a trigger (s. 55(6)).
Sexual disloyalty likewise can’t go about as a trigger (R v Clinton 2012 EWCA
Finally, Coroners and Justice
Act 2009 brought a legislation cited from the case jersey v holley which allows
to take in a certain limited number of the defendant characteristics based on
their gender and age when the decision for their crime is being made which is
also known as the objective test ((jersey v holley (2005)).
Moving on from voluntary mens
slaughter there is involuntary manslaughter, what differentiate murder to
manslaughter is the mens rea of these act as the actus rea of both of the
crimes are same, Involuntary manslaughter happens when the defendant has
intention (mens rea) of perpetrating murder, yet caused the death through being
reckless or criminal negligence
Involuntary manslaughter is when there is no aim to execute
or to cause GBH. The distinction between these two type of manslaughter depends
on the aim and intention of the defendant.
The next step down is types
of involuntary manslaughter, where there are two types, namely Constructive
manslaughter that caused by defendant unlawful and dangerous act which it is
probably the most common ground sport in involuntary manslaughter, and gross
For it to be unlawful firstly
it must be a crime and also must be a significant cause of death as per kennedy
(no. 2) (2007) which it comes down to jury to decide the relationship between
the defendant actions and whether if they are the significant cause of death.
Moving future, the action of
the defendant must be dangerous by definition, where the jury also decide by
applying the objective test, that what a reasonable man would consider in that
particular situation as being dangerous, in to defendant actions, which was
taken from crown v church (1966).
Moving on to another type of involuntary
manslaughter there is gross negligence, where the defendant is seemingly,
acting lawfully, it may emerge where the defendant has caused death yet neither
proposed to cause death nor expected to GBH and accordingly does not have the
mens rea of murder.
The main case that defied the
test for gross negligence manslaughter was adomako (1994) that looks through
duty of care, breach of duty of care, negligence that causes the death and in
terms of whether that negligence is considered to be gross negligence once
again the objective test applies and it is up to jury to decide whether it is
reasonable to consider the breach of duty as gross negligence.
As Rosa’s intention was not
ever to cause death of the residents and her main goal was to try to save
money, she does not have the mens rea of murder and therefore it is unlikely
that she would be charge with liability of this crime.
Moreover, as explained above
for a person to be charged with the criminal liability of voluntary
manslaughter there need to be the intention of a person to murder or to cause
GBH and therefore, for the same reason that murder would not apply in her case,
Rosa would not be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
However, this does not mean
that she is not liable for the death of the several residents therefore involuntary
manslaughter most likely would apply to her case.
As it has been already
mentioned for involuntary manslaughter there is no need to be intention to
murder or to cause GBH such as in the case of Rosa.
Rosa does have the mens rea
of involuntary manslaughter as by her action of failing to arrange the
inspection of smoke detectors in the communal, with the intention of saving
money, not only she have done unlawful and dangerous act but she would most
likely to be charged with gross negligence which have caused tragic death of
twenty of the residents.
As Rosa was the landlady to
the property she had a duty of care to all of the residents who were living in there,
it was her responsibility to arrange an inspection in order to make sure all
the smoke detectors are fully functional, future more, it is required for
private rented sector landlords from first October 2015, at least one smoke
alarm to be installed on every storey of their rental property.
Moreover, Rosa have done
breach of duty of care by failing to arrange the inspection of smoke detectors,
a similar accident took a place in the case of Singh R v where a manager of an
block of flat failed to provide responsibility and it was held that the block
manger had an duty of care which he failed to provide and therefor he was
In order to determine what
penalty Rosa is going to face with for her criminal liability of involuntary
manslaughter: gross negligence: breach of duty of care law provides information
that maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment however it is up to
judge to provide a lesser sentence based on the crime, such as a person
sentence between 2 to 10 years, community service or more.
In conclusion Rosa had a duty
of care to the residents who were living in her property and by making a
reckless decision to not arranging the inspection for smoke detectors in order
have a better profit margin and save money she had put the life of the
residents in danger that caused them their life, therefore she have had
breached her duty of care and it is going to charge with criminal offense of
But there are some points
that Rosa can make while defending herself in court where the fire would have
not started if Patti did not smoke in the balcony which the residents in the block of flats where
prohibited from smoking indoors this also shows the recklessness of Patti.
Moreover, it is
up to court to set a penalty for the crimes that Rosa have made and her breach
of duty of care with keeping in mind that the fire would have not started if
the resident did not smoke in the building.
1 Wilson, W. (2011). Criminal
law doctrine and theory (4th ed., Longman law series). Harlow, England ; New
2 Sarch, A. (2014). Knowledge,
Recklessness and the Connection Requirement Between Actus Reus and Mens Rea.
SSRN Electronic Journal.
4 Mens Rea in Criminal Cases.
(1890). Harvard Law Review, 4(4), p.186.
5 R v Woollin 1999 AC 82
6 Mens Rea in Criminal Cases.
(1890). Harvard Law Review, 4(4), p.186.
7 Homicide by Drunkard.
Murder. Manslaughter. (1909). The Virginia Law Register, 15(5), p.398.
8 Criminal Justice and
Immigration Act 2008, S 76
9 Homicide Act 1957, s 1(1)
10 Homicide Act 1957, s 1(2)
11 Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice.
1999. Paragraph 19-18 at page 1564.
12 Homicide Act 1957, s 2(1)
13 Criminal Justice Act 2003, s
14 Criminal Justice Act 2003,
15 Criminal Justice Act 2003,
Act 1957, s 2
Act 1957, s 3
Act 1957, s 4
v Cunningham 1982 AC 566
M. (2004). Murder as an Offence under English Law. The Journal of Criminal Law,