Prosecuting Ralph with Constructive Manslaughter – Law Essay
A submitted case concerns mostly omissions, duty to care and causation. According to facts Jo would face a charge of gross-negligence manslaughter; Gilbert could be
charged with misconduct; while an indictment against Ralph would be manslaughter based on unlawful act.
To establish Jo’s liability Actus Reus would be formed by an omission and Mens Rea by gross-negligence . To establish Gilbert’s misconduct by omission a duty to act and a breach of the duty must be proved. To prosecute Ralph with constructive manslaughter a commission of a dangerous unlawful act must be established . In his case it’s disputable if Actus Reus would be formed by commission or by omission, while Mens Rea is formed by intention.
All three causes of action would refer to omissions. In order to prove omission the existence of a duty to act and a breach of that duty must be proved.
In Jo’s case according to Mens Rea element of a crime a breach of duty must amount to gross-negligence . Proving legal causation would be a crucial factor to establish liability. Of those elements an existence of a duty to act and legal causation would be most difficult to be established.
To convict Gilbert the Prosecution would have the most trouble in establishing a duty to care.
In Ralph’s case a distinction made in the Bland case could be applied; it would be crucial if unlawful act was formed by commission (to kill), or by omission (to let die) to perform his duty to care.
Focusing on Jo’s liability first, the main question is whether Jo had the duty to care for Claire. According to a similar situation in Pittwood case, contractual responsibility might be applicable. Jo’s line of defense could argue that as a volunteer she might not have had a contractual duty to act. However she could be found guilty on the basis of another principle arising from Pittwood’s case: no contract itself, but rather the fact that a contract is evidence of an assumption responsibility creating an expectation in the mind of others that a person will act and cause the public to rely upon his/her performing these tasks. Furthermore Jo could be found liable of omission on basis of the R v Miller case ratio where the Defendant has created a dangerous situation and does not try to prevent or reduce it, either because he/she has not given any thought to the possibility that there might be any risk or because, having recognize that there was some risk involved, he has decided not to try to prevent or reduce it”. Following this objective test, leaving gates open without any kind of supervisory could be regarded as an act causing a dangerous situation. Thus Jo would be found responsible for breach of duty to care and for omission.
However to establish Jo’s liability for manslaughter both factual and legal causation must be proven. This will be considered after Gilbert’s and Ralph’s cases have been analysed. Gilbert could be guilty of omission only if he had the duty to care for Claire. However a lack of general duty to care is one of the principles of English law. According to law on omissions, Gilbert would share responsibility for Claire’s death if only one exemption applied to him. Gilbert does not have a contractual or statutorial duty to act; his conduct did not cause the dangerous situation. Regarding a fact that Gilbert was Claire’s neighbour the only exemption that might apply is presumption of responsibility where there is a special relationship. The little girl could be found guilty of murder in the first degree. She failed to alert the barrier chick that she was trying to eat the oncoming train. Now the train is dead.