Murder is unlawful homicide committed with ‘malice aforethought’ with the penalty of mandatory life imprisonment. ‘Malice aforethought’ describes the mens rea for a conviction of murder. Here it is necessary to consider that Drew had no ‘malice aforethought’ to killing Sam, who delivers the parcel, which consists of a letter bomb. Sam and a pedestrian was the victim of the bomb explosion. In Draft Criminal Code (Law Com. No. 177), the Law Commission recommended a change in the law. Clause 54 provides that a person is guilty of murder if he causes death of another intending to cause death or intending to cause serious personal harm and being aware that he may cause death.
Colin was, in fact, an off-duty police officer. He was driving his family to Dover for they were going on holiday. Colin got back into his car and continued driving. The principle is that ‘one must take one’s victim as one finds them’.
In Dytham6, D, a police constable, was on duty in uniform near a club when a man was ejected from the club and kicked to death by a ‘bouncer’. D took no steps to intervene and when the incident was over he drove off having told a by stander that he was going of duty. D was charged with the common law offence of misconduct whilst acting as an offence of justice, in that he had wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification neglected to perform his duty to preserve the Queen’s Peace and to protect the person of the deceased or arrest his assailants or otherwise bring them to justice. The CA upholds his conviction.
However, D was convicted not for his positive act. Place reliance on a passage in Stephen’s Digest of Criminal Law, which stated: ‘Every public officer commits a misdemeanour who wilfully neglects to perform any duty which he is bound either by common law or by statute to perform provided that the discharge of such a duty is not attended with grater danger than a man of ordinary firmness and activity may be expected to encounter.’
English law, unlike many other systems, does not impose on people a general duty to take positive action to assist people in difficulties or to avert harm, even if they are physically well capable of doing so. However, there is a very wide area of uncertainty. If there is a moral obligation to assist people in difficulty or danger, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead and Lord Hoffmann in Stovin v Wise7, discuss why there is no legal obligation.
In The Ogopogo 8the defendant had invited the claimant as a guest on his yacht. He accidentally fell overboard. D was not a mere bystander and was held to have a duty to reasonable care to save the claimant. In Goldman v Hargrave 9 may not have to show the care of a reasonable person, but only have to do what he is capable of, given his health and resources D was liable for his negative act.
This is not difficult to apply when the D has undertaken an on going responsibility, in the course of which the omission occurs [Henderson v Merrett Syndicates10] and Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co11. To identify there liability it is necessary to consider few relevant case. R v Yaqoob 12 considered a partner in a taxi firm who was responsible for making all necessary arrangements for the inspection and maintenance of a minibus