The unlawful act committed is “possession and supply of

The relevant
offence to be discussed is manslaughter. The cases of Keith and Lenny cannot be
murder, as it’s very clear that these crimes have been committed without malice
aforethought, which is vital for murder to be committed.

comes in two forms; involuntary or voluntary. Involuntary manslaughter is where
a person kills another without the intention to murder,1 whereas with voluntary
manslaughter the mens rea for murder can be present. The relevant type is
involuntary manslaughter, in which there are three types; gross negligence,
reckless, or unlawful act. In this case unlawful act manslaughter (UAM) is most

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The definition
of UAM2 comes from DPP v Newbury
and Jones3, which states “an accused
is guilty of manslaughter if…he intentionally did an act which was unlawful and
dangerous and that that act inadvertently caused death”4 This definition
establishes four parts that need to be satisfied in order for UAM5 to be present.

Firstly, an unlawful
act has to have taken place. Franklin6 explains that the act must
be a crime. Lamb7
demonstrates where there is no unlawful act present, as the defendants were
merely messing around together, so a conviction of UAM8 was not possible. Keith is
in possession of a class A controlled drug, which he prepares and gives to Kurt
and administers to Janis. The unlawful act committed is “possession and supply of a controlled drug to another”, which
is an offence under S4(1)(b) Misuse of drugs act9. Keith injecting Janis is
an unlawful act under S23 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA), “maliciously
administering a noxious thing so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily
harm.”10 Although it could be
argued that Janis consented to being injected, the case of Cato stated that “the victim’s consent to suffer harm of
this nature could never relieve the defendant of his liability, or destroy the
unlawfulness of the defendant’s act”11,
meaning her consent is irrelevant. Therefore, for both the cases of Kurt and
Janis, an unlawful act is present.

In Ginger’s
case, the unlawful act is clear. Despite his lack of intention to harm Lenny
physically, the heart attack following him slamming the desk shows that Lenny was
likely to be scared, especially given that Ginger was enraged. If this is the
case and Lenny feared immediate, unlawful violence, it would be the common law
offence, graded under S39 Criminal Justice Act,12 of assault. Larkin13 also involved an assault
that lead to the death of another.

The second part
of the definition requires the defendant to intend the unlawful act. It is
unnecessary to prove that the accused knew the act was unlawful (DPP V Newbury
and Jones14).
Whether the accused had the mens rea for the unlawful act is assessed
objectively and the person must merely recognise the risk of some harm.15 Furthermore, they must
intentionally engage in the act, and a negligent omission does not satisfy this
part of the offence (Lowe16). Keith has clearly
engaged in the act of supplying drugs, and his intention in doing this is clear.
He also actively agreed to inject Janis, and as a drug addict there may be the
assumption that he is aware of the dangers posed by injecting heroin.
Therefore, he reaches the intention requirements of s23 of the OAPA.17 18

In regards to Ginger,
he evidently intended to bang on the table and it was not a mistake. The point
in question is did he intend to cause Lenny to apprehend immediate, unlawful
violence, or was he reckless as to whether such apprehension was caused?
The fact that he becomes enraged alongside banging the table demonstrates his
actions to be reckless, in the heat of the moment. As recklessness can form the
mens rea of common assault, this requirement for UAM20 is present.

Next, the
original act must be viewed objectively as dangerous, as assessed by the jury. It
must be established that the “unlawful act must
be such as all sober and reasonable people would inevitably recognise that it
would subject the other person to, at least, the risk of some harm, albeit not
serious harm” (R V Church)21.
Any sober and reasonable person would understand
that injecting heroin is dangerous. Preparing such a drug can be deemed
dangerous as it’s a noxious thing, and can, like in this case, kill. Therefore,
administering the drug to Janis will be deemed as dangerous and the preparation
of it will be deemed dangerous in regards to Kurt.

case of Ginger is similar to that of Dawson.22 In
Dawson it was established that the defendants couldn’t be held liable for the
victim’s death as his heart disease was not evident at the time. This is the
same with Lenny, who, like Dawson, was 60 years old. Therefore, the precedent
set shows Ginger’s actions to not be dangerous to a reasonable person, and
according to Watson23, as
there was no evidence that ginger knew Lenny’s health condition, his small act
could not be deemed dangerous.

Finally, the
act committed must have caused the death of the victim. Here it’s important to
look at causation and any intervening acts that may have broken the chain of
causation. There are three parts to causation; factual causation, legal
causation and Novus actus interveniens.

causation looks at the ‘but for’ test that was set out in White24, where the defendant
poisoned his mother, but she died of an unrelated heart attack before the
poison had taken effect. The test
means that ‘but for’ the defendant’s act, the victim would not have died. This
applies to Kurt and Janis; but for Keith sourcing heroin and preparing it, they
would not have tried it on this occasion, and therefore would never have been
exposed to contaminated drugs and died.

Legal causation
looks at whether the actions of the defendant were operative and substantial in
the victim’s death. It does not have to be the main cause, as shown in Pagett25, where the defendant held
his girlfriend in front of him while police shot at him. Although the defendant
did not shoot her, his actions were operative and played a substantial part in
her getting shot. Keith played a significant part in the death of Kurt and
Janis, as he prepared and sourced contaminated heroin and then gave it to them.
He played a more significant part in Janis’ death as he physically injected it.
Despite this, he still played a significant part in Kurt’s death, and so legal
causation is still present here.

 It is unclear without medical evidence to
establish whether Ginger had any part in Lenny’s heart attack. As he was
already suffering from a heart condition there is the possibility that the
heart attack would have happened without gingers actions. However, this is
unlikely given the time proximity between ginger banging the table and Lenny’
heart attack.

In relation to
Novus Actus Interveniens, it was established in
Goodfellow that it is not necessary for the unlawful act to be directed at the
victim so long as there was no intervening cause before death.26  There were no intervening acts in regards to
Janis. For Lenny one could argue the thin skull rule, he should’ve been taken
as he was found, with a heart condition. However precedent set in common law
deems this to be invalid. Dias27 demonstrates
that self-injection of heroin does not amount to an unlawful act under the OAPA28 1861,
the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or under common law.29 This
would mean any conviction of unlawful act manslaughter, where the unlawful act
is the supply of drugs, may have the chain of causation broken by
self-injection. This and Kennedy30 applies
to Keith and Kurt. Kennedy states that “the supplier of a Class A controlled
drug would not be guilty of manslaughter if the person to whom the drug was
supplied freely and voluntarily self-administered it.” 31 Kurt
requested the heroin and so it is evident that he was supplied it freely, he
also injected it himself. According to Dias this breaks the chain of causation
between Keith supplying the drugs and Kurt’s death, and even if this was not
the case, Kennedy32 removes
the liability from Keith, as there is no evidence to suggest that Kurt was not a
sober and reasonable adult capable of forming a decision.

In Conclusion,
all parts of UAM33
are satisfied for Keith and Janis, so he will be liable for her death. However,
Kurt self-injecting broke the chain of causation, so Keith won’t be found
liable for Kurt’s death. Ginger will not be found liable for Lenny’s death, on
the basis of precedent set in Dawson in regards to the health issue not being

1 Nicola Monaghan, Criminal Law (4th edn 2016)

2 Unlawful Act

3 DPP v Newberry and
Jones 1977 AC 500

4 DPP v Newberry and
Jones 1977 AC 500 (Lord Salmon)

5 Unlawful act

6 R v Franklin (1883) 15
Cox CC 163

7 R v Lamb (Terence
Walter) 1967 2 QB 981

8 Unlawful Act

9 Misuse of Drugs Act
1971, s.4(1)(b)

10 Offences Against the
Person Act 1861 s.23

11 R v Cato 1976 1 WLR
110 (Lord WIdgery CJ)

12 Criminal Justice Act
1988 s.39

13 R v Larkin (Henry)
(1944) 29 Cr App R 18

14 DPP v Newberry and
Jones 1977 AC 500

15 Nicola Monaghan, Criminal Law (4th edn 2016)

16 R v Lowe 1973 QB 702

17 Offences Against the
Person Act 1861 s,.23

18 Offences Against the
Person Act 1861 s.23

19 R v Savage 1991 94 Cr App R 193

20 Unlawful Act

21 R v
Church 1966 1 QB 59

22 R v Dawson (1985) 81
Cr App R 150

23 R v Watson (Clarence
Archibald) 1989 1 WLR 684

24 R v White 1910 2 KB

25 R v Pagett (David
Keith) (1983) 76 Cr App R 279

26 R v Goodfellow (Kevin)
(1986) 83 Cr App R 23

27 R v Dias (Fernando
Augusto) 2001 EWCA Crim 2986; 2002 2 Cr App R 5

28 Offences Against the
Person Act 1861 s.23

29 R v Dias (Fernando
Augusto) 2001 EWCA Crim 2986; 2002 2 Cr App R 5

30 R v Kennedy (Simon) (No.2) 2007 UKHL 38; 2008 1 AC 269

31 R v Kennedy (Simon) (No.2) 2007 UKHL 38; 2008 1 AC 269

32 R v Kennedy (Simon) (No.2) 2007 UKHL 38; 2008 1 AC 269

33 Unlawful Act Manslaughter

34 R v Dawson (1985) 81
Cr App R 150