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GDL Criminal Law Coursework Assessment 2022

Advise Billy on liability for murder in relation to Alain

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Billy and Norm both can be alleged for the murder of Alain at first and Billy is solely alleged for the case of Norm's murder. Murder is the most intense category of homicide crime in the UK and different sections of The Homicide Act 1957, The Criminal Act 1974, and the Evidence Act 1851 work together in such cases typically. Alain's case is a typical case of murder as the reason for his death was a bullet that came out of someone else's pistol. It is a case of unplanned murder as Alain has been killed accidentally and not as a result of criminal conspiracy as per section 1A of the Criminal Justice Act, 1998. In this case, Billy cannot be the primary accused as he did not shoot at Alain. Here, the fact that the bullet that killed Alain has run out of Norm's pistol and the pistol has been held by Norm himself is the most important defence for Billy.

In this aspect, Billy has planned to provide a fatal shock to Norm because Billy has a basic idea about his poor heart condition of Norm. Norm was a patient with a serious condition and this matter nurtured in Billy's mind and provoked him to generate a fatal sudden shock that can deteriorate his heart condition of Norm. A person is not to be in charge convicted of a “homicide” if that means a human being is killing and a lawful to defend. Two important types of offenses and a murder element and manslaughter is been modified by a parliament act of the UK. Homicide crime and murder are regarded as serious and abhorrent types of crimes. A life taking and an impact on a family is victim to a special type of significance for offense and that to involve in another killing. Seriousness is regarded to reflect a maximum amount of penalties and the Act 1965 has stipulated a mandatory sentence. There is no option for a judge and a person is not convicted of murder to imprisonment for life.

 In the case of Billy and Norms, the rival action is considered an oblique intention. As per the case of Mens Rea entire case happen due to the criminal mind's thoughts of Billy’s. In the case of Hyamm V DPP[1]discovers the defective action of Norms and his action. As he saw his friend try to kill, he expresses his hatred to him and kills himself. In addition, he also states that Alain was killed due to billy’s action and this action of Billy constitutes a mental element in murder. This is to be reflected the seriousness of murder and by a reference a starting point. As per English law, two ingredients are compulsory to constitute a case of murder, and proving the presence of these two elements in the court is mandatory to prove the alleged party guilty of murder. These two elements are “Actus Reas” and “Mens Rea”, two Latin phases. “Actus Reas” is the guilty Act and as per the English Law to prove a person guilty the guilty act must be committed by the person himself. Here, in the case of Alan's murder, the bullet has not been fired by Billy and hence it can be their greatest defense of Billy that the element of “Actus Reas” is absent. The other element is “Mens Rea” that means guilty mind. Under English law to constitute a crime, the mere performance of the guilty act is not enough to prove a person guilty. The person needs to be intended to commit the crime. In simple words, a person committing a crime with full intention is a crime. Without intention or want to perform an act does not constitute a crime as opined in the historical case of “Sweet V. Parsley” by the House of Lords. In the murder of Alain, the “mens rea” element has been totally absent as the victim has been an unknown person to Billy and Billy had no agenda to kill him.[2] However, he has the motive to kill Norm, and the fact that the bullet killed Alain and not Norm can be a defense for Billy in court. Their physical condition of Norm can be another defense for him as he has a heart condition he can argue that at the time when Billy appeared weirdly he got frightened and he could have died on the spot and lost his emotional control.

Advise Norm on liability for murder in relation to Alain

As per the case study analysis it can be concluded that Norm was equally responsible for the occurrence of the murder that happen within this case study. It is clear that Norm was the criminal in the murder case of Alain. When on a winter evening Billy put on the disguise of “Mugger” by wearing a Balaclava cap and hiding in a graveyard. In this context, while Norm was passing beside the graveyard then Billy jumped and shouted at Norm. As Norm was a patient with a serious heart condition then he became frightened and also become annoyed. As a result, Norm drew out a pistol from his pocket and fired bullets at Billy. Luckily Billy was not hit by the gunshot and that bullet passed through Billy and hit Alain who was killed instantly beside the graveyard.

In chapter 11 and Part I of “Homicide Act 1957” of the UK this type of criminal offense of Bill has been described as “Provocation”. The case study discloses that Billy take attempts to murder and some shocking activities for norms as he knows that norms have a heart problem and a little shock can cause fatal for him that takes advantage of Billy and decided to hurt him in his weak point. Norms state that all this occurred because of his criminal action of Billy and shoot out himself. As per the “Coroners and Justice Act 2009” of the UK, this provocation is an offense and high penalty and liability can be charged to Billy.

As per the advice of law, this is a case of a serious criminal offense and as per the UK laws and acts it is a case of a “Culpable homicide case”. This is a type of offense where the death cause of a person is generally caused by negligence reckless act of annoyance or anger. As per “Homicide Act 1957” culpable homicide is a serious offense and as per Scots Law, this type of murder generally happened when there was no proper plan for murdering a human being and unintentional murder[4]. It is totally different from “Man slaughter” and “Attempted murder”. There is a huge scope for the murderer that no one can properly blame for this type of murder because it generally occurred unintentionally.

In the UK, the procedure of trial for cases of murder is complicated as no particular section or provision defines the crime of murder. A number of provisions from different pieces of legislation are together put in such cases.

In this country, there is no proper bill and act regarding this type of murder. “Culpable Homicide Bill (Scotland)” has first introduced in June 2020 and it fell in January 2021, due to certain reasons.

For Norm's defense, the defense council, first of all, needs to show that in this case, the element of “Actus Reus” is present as the bullet has been shot by Norm that caused the death of Alain, however, the element of “Mens Rea” is absent in this case. The presence of Alain has completely been unknown by Norm at the time of the incident. Norm has never met Alain before or is aware of his existence. The bullet has been fired to hit Billy had accidentally killed Norm. Without the presence of "Men Rea" Norm cannot be held guilty. In addition, the opposition needs to argue that the bullet has been fired by Norm in Self-defence. At the time of the incident Billy appeared weirdly in front of Norm inside the graveyard, Norm lost control and shot the Bullet to save his own life. As stated in Section 76 of the “Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, 2008” self-defense is a right of every individual in the UK.

Advise Billy on liability for murder in relation to Norm

As per the case study analysis it can be depicted that this incident happened because Billy provoked Norm to conduct this murder. Regarding this Billy is equally responsible for this entire murder case. Billy is an indirect murderer behind Norm who shoots Alain. It can be advised that Billy is more responsible for this entire incident murder case and he is the main culprit for this entire happened case. Billy will be punished for the act of "Men's rea" and on the other hand, he is also responsible for “Actus rea”.As Billy is more responsible for this incident, Actus Reus refers to physical appearances and physical activities that provoked Norms to shoot out him. Norms have heart problems and a little shock can make fatal for him.

In this case, the element of “Actus Reus” is absent here in the case of Norm's murder. Billy's attorney needs to show that the case of Norm's death is a case of natural death and not murder. Norm died after being in a state of coma for a long time. No physical harm has been responsible for pushing him into a state of coma. No mental or emotional element has caused his physical condition as he has been suffering from a serious heart condition for a long time before the occurrence of the incident. However at the time when the incidence of Alain's death occurred Billy had "Mens Rea" for killing Norm, at that time Norm has been safe and Alain has been killed by Norm. This incident and Norm's death have no connection at all and Norm died a natural death.

Their defence action of Norms took him to hospital for further treatment as he injured several by shootout himself. After advising him he enters a coma and needs some artificial support to survive but that also fails and after 2 years doctor declares he is dead. This defense action satisfies the case of WINZER where conviction holds entire requirements for liability that defends in a public place. 


“Culpable Homicide Scotland Bill” (Culpable Homicide Scotland Bill – Bills (proposed laws) – Scottish Parliament | Scottish Parliament Website) <https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/culpable-homicide-scotland-bill> accessed October 21, 2022

“Homicide Act 1957” (Legislation.gov.uk) <https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/5-6/11/enacted> accessed October 21, 2022

“Homicide Act 1957” (Legislation.gov.uk) <https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/5-6/11/enacted#:~:text=(1)Where%20a%20person%20kills,or%20furtherance%20of%20another%20offence.> accessed October 21, 2022

“Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter” (Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter | The Crown Prosecution Service) <https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/homicide-murder-and-manslaughter> accessed October 21, 2022

“What's the Difference between Manslaughter and Murder?” (What's the difference between Manslaughter and Murder? - Noble Solicitors) <https://www.noblesolicitors.co.uk/about/indepth-difference-between-murder-and-manslaughter.html> accessed October 21, 2022

Canadian Legal Information Institute | Canlii” <https://www.canlii.org/en> accessed November 2, 2022

Connor P, “Mens Rea (State of Mind) and Actus Reus (Criminal Conduct)” [2017] Blackstone's Police Investigators' Workbook 2018

Connor P, “Mens Rea (State of Mind) and Actus Reus (Criminal Conduct)” [2017] Blackstone's Police Investigators' Workbook 2018

Person, “14. Mens Rea in General.: Criminal Law” (LexisNexisOctober 8, 2022) <https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/legal/commentary/halsburys-laws-of-england/criminal-law/mens-rea-in-general> accessed October 21, 2022

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