Criminal Law Cases (Elements of Crime, Unlawful killing). Chapters 2-7

Terms in this set (55)

Temporal coincidence of Actuse Reus and Mens Rea. The appellants, in execution of a preconceived plot to kill the deceased, took him to a hut where he was struck over the head with an instrument, and then, believing him to be dead, they took him out and rolled him over a low cliff and dressed the scene to make it look like an accident. The medical evidence established, however, that the injuries received in the hut were not sufficient to cause the death, which was in fact due to exposure when he was left at the foot of the cliff. The appellants appealed against their conviction for murder, alleging, inter alia, that while the first act — the blows in the hut — was accompanied by mens rea, it was not the cause of death, but that the second act, while it was the cause of death, was not accompanied by mens rea, and contended that in those circumstances they were not guilty of any crime, except perhaps culpable homicide:—
Held, that it was impossible to divide up what was really one transaction in that way. The appellants set out to do all those acts as part of, and to achieve, their plan, and it was much too refined a ground of judgment to say that, because they were under a misapprehension at one stage and thought that their guilty purpose had been achieved before it in fact was, therefore they were not guilty of murder. There was no difference relevant to the present case between the law of South Africa and that of England, and by both laws there could be no separation such as that for which the appellants contended merely because of their misapprehension.