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Who, If Anyone, Is Criminally Responsible for the Death of William - Case Study Example

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The author of "Who, If Anyone, Is Criminally Responsible for the Death of William" paper analizes the issue arises as to who in fact is liable and if liability can be established under criminal law, whether any defenses are available under the circumstances…
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Who, If Anyone, Is Criminally Responsible for the Death of William
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Download file to see previous pages If we consider actus reus, it must be established that Simon committed an unlawful act that caused William’s death. Both factual and legal causation of death must be established. The factual test applicable is the “but for” principle established in the case of R v White2. Simon will be criminally liable if his conduct was the factual cause of William’s death and the consequence of death would not have happened “but for” Simon’s conduct.

If we apply the “but for” test to the current situation, William would not have been in hospital with severe injuries and loss of blood if had not been for Simon’s actions, therefore under the “but for test”, it is more than likely that Simon’s conduct will have satisfied the requirement of the factual cause of death. However, it is also evident from the facts that the medical staff at the hospital gave Williams the wrong blood type in the blood transfusion. As a result, William died two days later and this begs the question as to whether Simon was in fact the legal cause of death or whether the blood transfusion was the cause of death.

Under the legal causation test, it is not necessary for Simon’s conduct to be the sole cause of death however it must be the substantial cause and have made a significant contribution to Simon’s death3. Ultimately, this is determined according to the facts of each case, however, case law has established that the original wound must still be operating and a substantial cause at the time of death4.

With regard to the current scenario, the doctors administered the wrong blood type in the transfusion therefore it is arguable that it was their failure that was the substantial cause of Simon’s death. However, UK courts have been reluctant to break the chain of causation in cases where medical negligence is involved. A prime example is the case of R v Smith,5 where the victim was stabbed by Smith and a series of “unfortunate occurrences6” followed contributing to the chain of causation. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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