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Question:

• Give a definition from legislation or common law

• Set out the legal burden of proof and the standard of proof

• Identify which facts support Actus Reus and Mens Rea

• Support your analysis with relevant case law and commentary from your law books

• Decide if there are any causation issues

• Next look at possible defences

• Give a definition of the defence from legislation or common law

• Apply the law to the facts by Identifying which facts support a good case for the accused to show that the defence is true

 

Answer:

In the given case scenario, Edward has been charged with murder of his wife. Dawn was the wife of Edward and they were married almost for a year. It is mentioned in the case study that Edward used to take class 1 drugs on a regular basis. Moreover, this is also relevant from the case scenario that Edward used to behave violently on various occasion with his wife Dawn. Moreover, from relevant sources it was found that Edward used tom suffer from anxiety psychosis for a long time and thus he was under medication which he had to take on a regular basis. Sometimes, it was noticed that he missed out taking his medication when he was high in drugs. On a very evening, Dawn came late from work and Edward accused her of dating someone behind his back. However, there arguments lasted for hours and Dawn had decided to leave him and going to live with her new boy friend. This lead to a terrific incident as Edward hit her with a fry pan several time on her head and on her body. However, she fell on the floor and Edward continued with kicking until she was dead. Thus, Edward was charged with murder of her wife.

Under the law of UK, Murder is defined as an unlawful killing of a human being without a proper and appropriate justification or any kind of proper excuse. Under the court of law, it is relevant that the court does not have the right to convict an individual unless and until the individual has acted something with a criminal intention (Duff, 2010). Under the common law, law of murder is set out in a very effective way stating that murder is nothing but “an unlawful killing of a human being in the Queen’s peace, with malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought is a term, known as mens rea (Sayre, 1932). Mens rea means the individual must have the intention to kill or must have the intention to deliver a grievous bodily harm to the victim.  Mens rea is a Latin word and meaning of this word “Guilty mind” (Yaffe, 2004). Thus, men rea deals with the thinking of the defendant during the time of committing the crime. Therefore, this allows the United Kingdom criminal law system to differentiate between the individual who has committed a crime intentionally with the individual who does not committed the crime with any kind of bad intention. This can be referred from the case study of R v Vickers [1957] 2 QB 664.  On the other hand, there prevail another important term in the criminal law system of UK which is termed as Actus Reus. This consists of each and every elements of the crime. However, it does not include the state of the mind of the defendant. Elements, which are included, are as follows: conduct, omission, result or may be a state of affairs (Sim, 1955). According to Actus reus, conduct of the defendant must be voluntary in nature if the defendant incurred any kind of liability due to his conduct (Mangiafico, 2004). Various factors are prevailed in the involuntary of the conduct of the defendant, which are as follows:   

 

Automatism: this is implicated in the case scenario where the defendant is associated with any type of physical act. But, it must be also satisfied that the defendant was not aware of his/her doing due to various external factors.

Reflex action: Action of the individual due to some spontaneous reflex is included in this factor, which the defendant has no control over it. This is also referring sometimes as a part of automatism.

Physical force: conduct of the defendant can be considered to be involuntary if there prevail any kind of physical force implemented by someone.

As per the law of UK, most important element of Actus reus of murder is that the victim must be a human being. Thus, an individual cannot be charged as a murderer if the individual kills any animal other than human being. This can be referred from the case study of R v Malcherek and Steel [1981] 2 ALL ER. In the given case scenario, Edward has been considered a murderer as he murdered his wife. Edward has the intention to kill her wife as he continued hitting her till she died. Thus, the defendant has the intention to kill her as per the rule of mens rea. The defendant has the guilty mind and intention during the time of committing the act. In this scenario, the conduct of the defendant was voluntary in nature as per the rules of Actus reus. The above-mentioned points must be satisfied for considering the act of the defendant an involuntary conduct.

The evidences, which are required to be submitted by the plaintiff against the defendant for winning the trial, are termed as the standard of proof. Standard of proof varies from cases to cases. Thus, the standard of proof is important to please the prosecutor that there does not prevail any doubt regarding the charges, which are charged against the defendant for conducting unlawful act (Keane and McKeown, 2012). As per Section 141 of the criminal law that in a criminal proceeding the court does not have the right to consider the case as proved unless and until the plaintiff represent proper and reasonable prove against the defendant. For example: Miller v Minister of Pensions [1947] 2 All ER 372 There is another term in the law of UK, which is termed as evidential burden of proof. According to the law, the plaintiff must prove the court with the burden of proof that there prevail a case against the defendant and the defendant is answerable for the trial (Duff, 2010). In many cases, it has been noticed that the defendant has some evidence of burden of proof to rise in front of the court in order to defend himself/herself.  As per the example: if the defendant is charged for a grievous bodily harm or murder of someone and he claims that he acted like that in order to defend himself from the victim and for the purpose of self defence, then this can be considered to be the burden of proof on the part of the defendant thereby providing an opportunity to defend himself from the charges made against him. In the case scenario, the defendant Edward does not possess the right to defend himself against the charges, which were made against him. However, the plaintiff on the other hand has an ample of evidence against the defendant for conducting murder of his wife Dawn. In this case scenario, Edward had the intentio0n to kill her and therefore he did not stop hitting and kicking her till she died.

However, the defendant Edward has some valid grounds on which he can defendant himself from the charges. It is mentioned in the case scenario, that he was suffering from anxiety psychosis and he was under medication. Anxiety make individual feel like going crazy. In various cases, it gets so extreme that it automatically falls under psychosis. In such cases, patients usually losses reality and in many cases the individual is not aware of that fact. Moreover, the issues are also noticed in such patients related to hallucinations or delusions and thus the patient may fail to understand the difference between reality and experiences. Social and behaviour malfunctions also causes with this type of patient. Thus, the defendant Edward has the ground to defend himself in the court by proving that he was not normal and sound like other individual and he was suffering from anxiety psychosis from several years and he was also under medication. But there prevail a problem regarding the medication. It was mentioned in the case study, that often he missed out to take his medicine. If on that very particular on which the incident happened he missed out to take his medicine then it will be considered that due to negligence on the part for Edward, the incident happened. Thus, he will be proved guilty for the charges made by the plaintiff against him.

 

As per the above discussion, it can be concluded that the accused should be sent to a mental institution for his treatment and correction of the act he committed. In this case, the court does not have the right to punish the defendant on the grounds of murdering his wife. It is mentioned in the case scenario that the defendant as suffering from severe anxiety psychosis and he was also under medication. This type of patient fails to recognise sometimes what they are doing. Thus, the defendant must be sent to a mental institution for his treatment and correction regarding the act he conducted by murdering her wife. He can refer to the case study of M'Naghten [1843] UKHL J16 House of Lords.   

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