CRIMES AND DEFENCES – UMBRELLA DEATH

| March 13, 2014

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ASSESSMENT TASK CASE STUDY: CRIMES AND DEFENCES – UMBRELLA DEATH
REQUIRED:
1 Read the case study ?Umbrella death? ( Text page 94) and answer the questions.
a. Discuss four principles of criminal liability applying them to this case. (4 marks)
The four principles of criminal liability are burden of proof, participants in the crime, age of criminal responsibility and the standard of proof. The people who are responsible for the burden of proof in this case are the Police or the ?Crown? who have to persecute the accused boy of murder. The participants in the crime were the 14 year old boy (the accused), Christopher (victim) and his friends (witnesses). The age of responsibility doesn?t apply in this case as the boy is older than the age of 10 and has been able to form intent to commit the crime. In this case the standard of proof was to be decided by 12 jurors. The offence was very serious therefore it would?ve taken place in the county or supreme court where jurors decide whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, which they did.
b. Explain the prosecution?s case. You will need to show how each element of murder relates to this case. (5 marks)
The prosecution?s case was handled by the Police. They would?ve had to prove that the 14 year old was able to form intent to kill. As the boy is older than 10 he was able to form intent but the court has to take into account that the boy was 14 and committed the most heinous of crimes. The killing must also be proved that it was unlawful. The accused must be of sound mind and stabbed Christopher in the head with an umbrella knowingly full well what he was doing. The accused caused the victims death by stabbing him in the head with an umbrella. Also malice aforethought needs to have existed by Christopher being struck in the head by an umbrella.
c. What arguments might a barrister acting for the accused use to lessen the boy?s criminal liability? (2 marks)
The arguments that a barrister who was acting for the boy might use would be that he wasn?t able to form intent to kill Christopher due to his age. That the boy hadn?t planned or premeditated the murder as he happened to be carrying the umbrella as it is not a proper weapon. The barrister could?ve also used the fact that the boy came from a family that had a history of violence and that it was accepted in his house.
d. The jury found the accused guilty of murder. They believed the accused had acted towards Christopher with the intention of doing him really serious injury and that his actions were not a reasonable response given the circumstances that he was faced with. The appeal court considered the distinction between reckless murder and unlawful and dangerous manslaughter.
Looking at the definition for murder with reckless indifference (malice aforethought) and the definition of dangerous and unlawful manslaughter, and at the circumstances of the accused (youth, background etc.), which do you think would have been an appropriate verdict? Give your reasons. (5 marks)
If I was a juror for this case I would most likely find him guilty of murder as malice aforethought existed. The accused actions were not a reasonable response given the circumstances as it wasn?t in self-defence. He made the first physical blow to the head without even a threatening situation presenting itself. Not to mention that he also hit Christopher twice and the second blow being the killing hit which would also indicate that there was malice aforethought. Although I would find him guilty of murder, his sentence wouldn?t be as harsh taking into account that he comes from a violent family where violence is accepted and also that he is very young. I would keep the current verdict after the court of appeal which was 12 years with a minimum of 8 years.
e. What was the final sentence in this case? Explain why you think this decision would have been reached by the court and whether you think it is fair in the circumstances.(4 marks)
?He argued that he had no intention to kill or do really serious injury to Christopher.? This decision might?ve been reached by the court because the boy happened to have the umbrella in his hand at the time as it was a rainy day. That he had not premeditated the act in any way shape or form. The boy also would?ve hit Christopher unjustifiably because he thought that he was being threatened by an older boy so it was an instinct reaction. I think that this isn?t fair as there was no real threat to the boy by Christopher, that he had intentionally murdered Christopher due to the fact that he not only hit him once but twice.
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