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Attorney General's Reference (No.3 of 1994)


House of Lords
24 July 1997

Case Analysis

Where Reported [1998] A.C. 245; [1997] 3 W.L.R. 421; [1997] 3 All E.R. 936; [1998] 1
Cr. App. R. 91; [1997] Crim. L.R. 829; (1997) 94(36) L.S.G. 44;
(1997) 147 N.L.J. 1185; (1997) 141 S.J.L.B. 189; Times, July 25,
1997; Independent, October 1, 1997;

Case Digest Subject: Criminal law


Keywords: Criminal liability; Murder; Transferred malice; Unborn
children; Unlawful act manslaughter
Summary: Murder; mens rea; wounding of pregnant woman; child
born alive then dying; mens rea insufficient for murder but sufficient
for manslaughter

B stabbed a pregnant woman, who later gave birth to a premature


child, S, who died after 121 days. Although S had been wounded in
the stabbing, it could not be proved that the wound contributed to
her death. B, convicted of wounding the mother with intent, was,
after S's death, charged with her murder, but his acquittal was
ordered after it was held that he could not in law be convicted of
murder or manslaughter, even if causation was proved. A reference
was made by the Attorney General under the Criminal Justice Act
1972 s.36 for a ruling on whether (1) murder or manslaughter could
be committed where unlawful injury was deliberately inflicted on a
mother carrying a child in utero, where the child was born alive but
subsequently died and the injuries inflicted caused or contributed to
death, and (2) liability for murder or manslaughter could be
negatived where death was caused solely as a result of injury to the
mother, as opposed to direct injury to the foetus.

Held, that B could be convicted of manslaughter but not of murder.


An intention to harm the mother could not be equivalent to intent to
harm the foetus, since they were two distinct organisms living
symbiotically. There was no basis for extending the doctrine of
transferred malice to a case where there had been no intention to
injure the foetus. The mens rea for murder was not, therefore,
present. However, B could be guilty of manslaughter resulting from
an unlawful and dangerous act, for which it was unnecessary for the
act to have been directed against the person who died as a result of
it or for B to have known that his act was likely to injure that person.
All that was needed was proof that B intentionally stabbed the
mother, that the act caused the death, and that reasonable people
would have appreciated the risk that some harm would result.
Although the foetus was not a living person at the time, it was not
unreasonable on grounds of public policy to regard S, when she
became a living person, as within the scope of B's mens rea when
he stabbed her mother, and the actus reus for manslaughter was
completed when S died.

Judge: Lord Goff of Chieveley; Lord Mustill; Lord Slynn of Hadley;


Lord Hope of Craighead; Lord Clyde
Counsel: For B: Simon Hawkesworth Q.C. and Andrew Lees. . For
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the Attorney General: Robert S Smith Q.C. and David Calvert-Smith.


Solicitor: For B: Blake Lapthorn for Sugare & Co (Leeds). . For the
Attorney General: CPS (Headquarters).

Appellate History &


Court of Appeal (Criminal Division); 24 November 1995
Status
Attorney General's Reference (No.3 of 1994)
[1996] Q.B. 581; [1996] 2 W.L.R. 412; [1996] 2 All E.R. 10; [1996]
1 Cr. App. R. 351; [1996] 2 F.L.R. 1; (1996) 29 B.M.L.R. 99; [1996]
Crim. L.R. 268; (1995) 145 N.L.J. 1777; (1996) 140 S.J.L.B. 20;
Times, November 29, 1995; Independent, December 6, 1995

Affirmed in part

House of Lords; 24 July 1997


Attorney General's Reference (No.3 of 1994)
[1998] A.C. 245; [1997] 3 W.L.R. 421; [1997] 3 All E.R. 936; [1998]
1 Cr. App. R. 91; [1997] Crim. L.R. 829; (1997) 94(36) L.S.G. 44;
(1997) 147 N.L.J. 1185; (1997) 141 S.J.L.B. 189; Times, July 25,
1997; Independent, October 1, 1997

All Cases Cited S (Adult: Refusal of Treatment), Re


[1993] Fam. 123; [1992] 3 W.L.R. 806; [1992] 4 All E.R. 671; [1993]
1 F.L.R. 26; [1992] 2 F.C.R. 893; [1993] 4 Med. L.R. 28; [1993] Fam.
Law 221; (1992) 142 N.L.J. 1450; (1992) 136 S.J.L.B. 299; Times,
October 16, 1992; Independent, October 14, 1992; Fam Div; 12
October 1992
McWilliams v Lord Advocate
1992 S.L.T. 1045; 1992 S.C.L.R. 954; OH; 28 July 1992
Burton v Islington HA
[1993] Q.B. 204; [1992] 3 W.L.R. 637; [1992] 3 All E.R. 833; [1992]
2 F.L.R. 184; [1992] 2 F.C.R. 845; [1992] P.I.Q.R. P269; [1993] 4
Med. L.R. 8; (1992) 89(17) L.S.G. 51; (1992) 142 N.L.J. 565; (1992)
136 S.J.L.B. 104; Times, March 25, 1992; Independent, April 8,
1992; Guardian, May 20, 1992; CA (Civ Div); 18 March 1992
R. v Le Brun (John)
[1992] Q.B. 61; [1991] 3 W.L.R. 653; [1991] 4 All E.R. 673; (1992)
94 Cr. App. R. 101; Times, July 24, 1991; CA (Crim Div); 19 July
1991
R. v Cheshire (David William)
[1991] 1 W.L.R. 844; [1991] 3 All E.R. 670; (1991) 93 Cr. App. R.
251; [1991] Crim. L.R. 709; (1991) 141 N.L.J. 743; (1991) 135 S.J.
11; Times, April 24, 1991; Guardian, April 30, 1991; Daily Telegraph,
April 29, 1991; CA (Crim Div); 22 April 1991
R. v Tait (Stephen James)
[1990] 1 Q.B. 290; [1989] 3 W.L.R. 891; [1989] 3 All E.R. 682;
(1990) 90 Cr. App. R. 44; [1989] Crim. L.R. 834; (1989) 133 S.J.
849; CA (Crim Div); 26 April 1989
McCluskey (John Wilson) v HM Advocate
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1989 S.L.T. 175; 1988 S.C.C.R. 629; [1989] R.T.R. 182; HCJ; 23
November 1988
R. v Mitchell (Ronald James)
[1983] Q.B. 741; [1983] 2 W.L.R. 938; [1983] 2 All E.R. 427; (1983)
76 Cr. App. R. 293; [1983] Crim. L.R. 549; CA (Crim Div); 18
February 1983
R. v Pagett (David Keith)
(1983) 76 Cr. App. R. 279; [1983] Crim. L.R. 393; Official Transcript;
CA (Crim Div); 03 February 1983
R. v Dalby (Derek Shaun)
[1982] 1 W.L.R. 425; [1982] 1 All E.R. 916; (1982) 74 Cr. App. R.
348; [1982] Crim. L.R. 439; CA (Crim Div); 04 December 1981
R. v Cunningham (Anthony Barry)
[1982] A.C. 566; [1981] 3 W.L.R. 223; [1981] 2 All E.R. 863; (1981)
73 Cr. App. R. 253; HL; 08 July 1981
DPP v Newbury (Neil)
[1977] A.C. 500; [1976] 2 W.L.R. 918; [1976] 2 All E.R. 365; (1976)
62 Cr. App. R. 291; [1977] Crim. L.R. 359; (1976) 120 S.J. 402; HL;
12 May 1976
Hyam v DPP
[1975] A.C. 55; [1974] 2 W.L.R. 607; [1974] 2 All E.R. 41; (1974) 59
Cr. App. R. 91; [1974] Crim. L.R. 365; (1974) 118 S.J. 311; HL; 21
March 1974
Fagan v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
[1969] 1 Q.B. 439; [1968] 3 W.L.R. 1120; [1968] 3 All E.R. 442;
(1968) 52 Cr. App. R. 700; (1969) 133 J.P. 16; (1968) 112 S.J. 800;
DC; 31 July 1968
R. v Creamer (George Walter)
[1966] 1 Q.B. 72; [1965] 3 W.L.R. 583; [1965] 3 All E.R. 257; (1965)
49 Cr. App. R. 368; (1965) 129 J.P. 586; (1965) 109 S.J. 648; CCA;
13 July 1965
R. v Church (Cyril David)
[1966] 1 Q.B. 59; [1965] 2 W.L.R. 1220; [1965] 2 All E.R. 72; (1965)
49 Cr. App. R. 206; (1965) 129 J.P. 366; (1965) 109 S.J. 371; CCA;
22 March 1965
R. v Buck (Leonard)
(1960) 44 Cr. App. R. 213; Assizes (Leeds); 22 March 1960
R. v Vickers (John Willson)
[1957] 2 Q.B. 664; [1957] 3 W.L.R. 326; [1957] 2 All E.R. 741;
(1957) 41 Cr. App. R. 189; (1957) 121 J.P. 510; (1957) 101 S.J.
593; CCA; 05 July 1957
R. v Larkin (Henry)
[1943] K.B. 174; [1943] 1 All E.R. 217; (1944) 29 Cr. App. R. 18;
CCA; 15 December 1942
Woolmington v DPP
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[1935] A.C. 462; [1935] All E.R. Rep. 1; (1935) 51 T.L.R. 446; (1936)
25 Cr. App. R. 72; (1935) 30 Cox C.C. 234; (1935) 104 L.J. K.B.
433; (1935) 153 L.T. 232; (1935) 79 S.J. 401; HL; 23 May 1935
DPP v Beard
[1920] A.C. 479; (1920) 14 Cr. App. R. 159; 12 A.L.R. 846; HL; 05
March 1920
R. v Shephard
[1919] 2 K.B. 125; (1920) 14 Cr. App. R. 26; CCA; 31 March 1919
R. v Latimer
(1886) L.R. 17 Q.B.D. 359; Crown Cases Reserved; 15 May 1886
R. v Pembliton (Henry)
(1872-75) L.R. 2 C.C.R. 119; Crown Cases Reserved; 25 April 1874
R. v Maria Knights
175 E.R. 952; (1860) 2 F. & F. 46; Assizes; 01 January 1860
R. v West
175 E.R. 329; (1848) 2 Car. & K. 784; Assizes; 11 March 1848
R. v Ann Crutchley
173 E.R. 355; (1837) 7 Car. & P. 814; Assizes; 01 January 1837
R. v Richard Enoch and Mary Pulley
172 E.R. 1089; (1833) 5 Car. & P. 539; Assizes; 06 March 1833
Agnes Gore's Case
77 E.R. 853; (1611) 9 Co. Rep. 81; KB; 01 January 1611

Key Cases Citing Considered


Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority v First-tier Tribunal (Social
Entitlement Chamber)
[2014] EWCA Civ 1554; [2015] Q.B. 459; [2015] 2 W.L.R. 463;
[2015] 4 All E.R. 60; [2015] 1 Cr. App. R. 19; [2015] 2 F.L.R. 1163;
[2015] P.I.Q.R. P12; (2015) 142 B.M.L.R. 18; [2015] Fam. Law 123;
Official Transcript; CA (Civ Div); 04 December 2014
Attorney General for Northern Ireland v Senior Coroner for Northern
Ireland
[2013] NICA 68; [2015] N.I. 14; Official Transcript; CA (NI); 21
November 2013

All Cases Citing Mentioned by


Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority v First-tier Tribunal (Social
Entitlement Chamber)
[2017] EWCA Civ 139; CA (Civ Div); 14 March 2017
Considered
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority v First-tier Tribunal (Social
Entitlement Chamber)
[2014] EWCA Civ 1554; [2015] Q.B. 459; [2015] 2 W.L.R. 463;
Page5

[2015] 4 All E.R. 60; [2015] 1 Cr. App. R. 19; [2015] 2 F.L.R. 1163;
[2015] P.I.Q.R. P12; (2015) 142 B.M.L.R. 18; [2015] Fam. Law 123;
Official Transcript; CA (Civ Div); 04 December 2014
Mentioned by
Wild v Southend University Hospital Nhs Trust Foundation Trust
[2014] EWHC 4053 (QB); QBD; 03 December 2014
Considered
Attorney General for Northern Ireland v Senior Coroner for Northern
Ireland
[2013] NICA 68; [2015] N.I. 14; Official Transcript; CA (NI); 21
November 2013
Mentioned by
R. v M
[2012] EWCA Crim 2293; [2013] 1 W.L.R. 1083; [2013] 1 Cr. App. R.
10; [2013] Crim. L.R. 335; Official Transcript; CA (Crim Div); 07
November 2012
Mentioned by
R. v Gnango (Armel)
[2011] UKSC 59; [2012] 1 A.C. 827; [2012] 2 W.L.R. 17; [2012] 2 All
E.R. 129; [2012] 1 Cr. App. R. 18; (2012) 109(2) L.S.G. 16; (2011)
155(48) S.J.L.B. 31; Times, December 15, 2011; Official Transcript;
SC; 14 December 2011
Mentioned by
R. v Coutts (Graham James)
[2006] UKHL 39; [2006] 1 W.L.R. 2154; [2006] 4 All E.R. 353; [2007]
1 Cr. App. R. 6; [2006] Crim. L.R. 1065; (2006) 156 N.L.J. 1213;
(2006) 150 S.J.L.B. 984; Times, July 24, 2006; Independent, July
21, 2006; Official Transcript; HL; 19 July 2006
Mentioned by
R. v Coutts (Graham James)
[2005] EWCA Crim 52; [2005] 1 W.L.R. 1605; [2005] 1 Cr. App. R.
31; [2005] Crim. L.R. 784; (2005) 102(9) L.S.G. 28; Times, January
26, 2005; Official Transcript; CA (Crim Div); 21 January 2005
Mentioned by
Vo v France (53924/00)
[2004] 2 F.C.R. 577; (2005) 40 E.H.R.R. 12; 17 B.H.R.C. 1; (2004)
79 B.M.L.R. 71; [2005] Inquest L.R. 129; ECHR (Grand Chamber);
08 July 2004
Mentioned by
Evans v Amicus Healthcare Ltd
[2004] EWCA Civ 727; [2005] Fam. 1; [2004] 3 W.L.R. 681; [2004] 3
All E.R. 1025; [2004] 2 F.L.R. 766; [2004] 2 F.C.R. 530; (2004) 78
B.M.L.R. 181; [2004] Fam. Law 647; (2004) 148 S.J.L.B. 823;
Times, June 30, 2004; Independent, June 29, 2004; Official
Transcript; CA (Civ Div); 25 June 2004
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Mentioned by
Evans v Amicus Healthcare Ltd
[2003] EWHC 2161 (Fam); [2004] 2 W.L.R. 713; [2003] 4 All E.R.
903; [2004] 1 F.L.R. 67; [2003] 3 F.C.R. 577; (2004) 75 B.M.L.R.
115; [2003] Fam. Law 879; (2003) 100(39) L.S.G. 38; (2003) 153
N.L.J. 1519; (2003) 147 S.J.L.B. 1150; Times, October 2, 2003;
Independent, October 14, 2003; Official Transcript; Fam Div; 01
October 2003
Mentioned by
R. (on the application of Smeaton) v Secretary of State for Health
[2002] EWHC 610 (Admin); [2002] 2 F.L.R. 146; [2002] 2 F.C.R.
193; (2002) 66 B.M.L.R. 59; [2002] Crim. L.R. 664; [2002] A.C.D. 70;
[2002] Fam. Law 664; (2002) 99(22) L.S.G. 33; (2002) 152 N.L.J.
638; (2002) 146 S.J.L.B. 117; Times, May 2, 2002; Daily Telegraph,
May 16, 2002; Official Transcript; QBD (Admin); 18 April 2002
Mentioned by
A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Medical Treatment) (No.1), Re
[2001] Fam. 147; [2001] 2 W.L.R. 480; [2000] 4 All E.R. 961; [2001]
1 F.L.R. 1; [2000] 3 F.C.R. 577; [2000] H.R.L.R. 721; [2001]
U.K.H.R.R. 1; 9 B.H.R.C. 261; [2000] Lloyd's Rep. Med. 425; (2001)
57 B.M.L.R. 1; [2001] Crim. L.R. 400; [2001] Fam. Law 18; (2000)
150 N.L.J. 1453; Times, October 10, 2000; Independent, October 3,
2000; Official Transcript; CA (Civ Div); 22 September 2000
Mentioned by
R. v Antoine (Pierre Harrison)
[2001] 1 A.C. 340; [2000] 2 W.L.R. 703; [2000] 2 All E.R. 208; [2000]
2 Cr. App. R. 94; (2000) 54 B.M.L.R. 147; [2000] M.H.L.R. 28;
[2000] Crim. L.R. 621; (2000) 97(18) L.S.G. 36; (2000) 144 S.J.L.B.
212; Times, April 4, 2000; Independent, April 4, 2000; Official
Transcript; HL; 30 March 2000
Mentioned by
St George's Healthcare NHS Trust v S (Guidelines)
[1999] Fam. 26; (1997-98) 1 C.C.L. Rep. 578; [1998] Fam. Law 662;
Times, August 3, 1998; CA (Civ Div); 30 July 1998
Mentioned by
R. v Woollin (Stephen Leslie)
[1999] 1 A.C. 82; [1998] 3 W.L.R. 382; [1998] 4 All E.R. 103; [1999]
1 Cr. App. R. 8; [1998] Crim. L.R. 890; (1998) 95(34) L.S.G. 32;
(1998) 148 N.L.J. 1178; (1998) 142 S.J.L.B. 248; (1998) 142
S.J.L.B. 230; Times, July 23, 1998; HL; 22 July 1998
Mentioned by
St George's Healthcare NHS Trust v S
[1999] Fam. 26; [1998] 3 W.L.R. 936; [1998] 3 All E.R. 673; [1998] 2
F.L.R. 728; [1998] 2 F.C.R. 685; (1997-98) 1 C.C.L. Rep. 410;
(1998) 44 B.M.L.R. 160; [1998] C.O.D. 396; [1998] Fam. Law 526;
(1998) 95(22) L.S.G. 29; (1998) 148 N.L.J. 693; (1998) 142 S.J.L.B.
164; Times, May 8, 1998; Independent, May 12, 1998; CA (Civ Div);
07 May 1998
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Mentioned by
R. v Khan (Rungzabe)
[1998] Crim. L.R. 830; Times, April 7, 1998; Independent, March 25,
1998; Official Transcript; CA (Crim Div); 18 March 1998

Significant Legislation Criminal Justice Act 1972 (c.71) s.36


Cited

Legislation Cited Abortion Act 1967 (c.87)


Criminal Justice Act 1972 (c.71)
Criminal Justice Act 1972 (c.71) s.36
Homicide Act 1957 (c.11) s.1
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (c.37)
Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 (c.34)
Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (c.100) s.20
Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (c.100) s.58
Road Traffic Act 1972 (c.20) s.1

Journal Articles Crimes against the foetus: the rights and wrongs of protecting
the unborn
Abortion; Constitutional law; Criminal law; Foetus; Ireland; Medical
ethics; Self-defence; Unborn children; United States.
M.L.J.I. 2006, 12(2), 65-76
Transferred malice and the remoteness of unexpected
outcomes from intentions
Causation; Criminal intent; Germany; Murder; Remoteness;
Transferred malice.
Crim. L.R. 2006, May, 383-398
Pregnant woman and unborn child: legal adversaries?
Criminal liability; Mothers; Negligence; Unborn children; United
States.
M.L.J.I. 2002, 8(2), 75-81
A Lord's eye view of fetal status
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Edin. L.R. 1999, 3(2), 246-250
Attorney General's Reference (No.3 of 1994)
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Law & Just. 1998, 136/137, 68-70
Pre-natal injury and homicide following Attorney-General's
Reference (No 3 of 1994)
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
M.L.R. 1999, 62(1), 128-132
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Killing the unborn child: abortion and homicide


Abortion; Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Med. L. Rev. 1998, 6(2), 256-261
Policing pregnancy: implications of the Attorney-General's
Reference (No.3 of 1994)
Criminal liability; Mens rea; Pregnancy; Unborn children.
Med. L. Rev. 1998, 6(3), 265-296
Homicide - murder - stabbing of pregnant woman causing
injury to foetus
Causation; Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
C.L.B. 1996, 22(3/4), 788-789
Homicide by prenatal assault revisited
Causation; Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
C.L.J. 1998, 57(2), 240-241
Constructive manslaughter: the House of Lords look for
another person
Causation; Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
J. Crim. L. 1998, 62(2), 166-168
Stabbing foetus who is born alive then dies can be
manslaughter but not murder
Causation; Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Pol. J. 1998, 71(1), 89-92
Unlawful injury to mother while carrying child in utero - child
dies after birth
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Crim. L.R. 1997, Nov, 829-831
Murder and transferred malice: a new ambiguity for
prosecutors?
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
J.P. 1997, 161(50), 1134-1135
Status of the foetus
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Med. L. Mon. 1997, 4(7), 1-3
Heart breaking
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
N.L.J. 1997, 147(6808), 1348,1349
The assailant, the mother, the foetus and the baby
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
N.L.J. 1997, 147(6809), 1387
Transferred malice and the unborn foetus
Manslaughter; Mens rea; Murder; Unborn children.
Page9

S.L. Rev. 1997, 22(Aut), 27-28

Books Archbold Criminal Pleading Evidence and Practice 2018 Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 17 - The Mental Element in Crime
Documents: 17-24

Archbold Criminal Pleading Evidence and Practice 2018 Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 19 - Offences against the Person
Documents: 19-15 “In being”

Archbold Criminal Pleading Evidence and Practice 2018 Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 19 - Offences against the Person
Documents: 19-285a “Any other person”

Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2018


Chapter: Chapter A2 - Mens Rea
Documents: Transferred Mens Rea

Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2018


Chapter: Chapter B1 - Homicide and Related Offences
Documents: Murder

Encyclopedia of Road Traffic Law and Practice


Chapter: Road Traffic Act 1988
Documents: 4-811 Causing death by dangerous driving

Jervis on Coroners 13th Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 5 - Beginning The Investigation
Documents: What Amounts to a Body

Jervis on Coroners 13th Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 14 - Homicide
Documents: Substantive offences

The Criminal Law of Scotland (SULI), Vol. 2, 4th Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 30 - Murder
Documents: Homicide in General

The Criminal Law of Scotland (SULI), Vol. 2, 4th Ed.


Chapter: Chapter 30 - Murder
Documents: Murder

The Law Relating to Parent & Child in Scotland (SULI) 3rd Ed.
Chapter: Chapter 2 - Ante-Natal Issues
Documents: During Gestation
Page10

Insight Childbirth
Transferred malice

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