Alan has a paranoid personality and is prone to depression. Betty is Alan's girlfriend. She is having an affair with Clive and does not conceal this fact form Alan who feels demeaned and angry. Betty comes home form the pub one day and announces to Alan that she is going to leave him for Clive. She packs her bags and goes. Not knowing what to do, Alan picks up a hunting rifle and goes in search of Clive. He looks through the pub window and sees both Betty and Clive together. Whilst taking aim at Clive with the rifle, Dennis, an old friend from the pub, staggers over Alan and gives him a hard slap on the back. Alan stumbles whilst pulling the trigger and shoots a paraffin lamp on the bar. It ignites and the pub catches fire. The landlord of the pub, Ed, has piled crates in front of the fire exits so the only escape is through the narrow door. Clive dies in the fire and Betty collapses in an attempted escape. She is taken to the hospital but is diagnosed as being in a 'persistent vegetative state." She receives life support treatment. After one month, however, Doctor Fiona decides that Betty is unlikely to ever again consciousness and so authorizes the termination of life support. Benny dies two weeks after.In order to arrive answer to each of the questions, let us take first an overview on how criminal liability may be incurred in the commission of an offense in the United Kingdom and the available defences he can utilize to lessen or even negate his criminal liability.
The Concept of Crime and Criminal Liability
In almost all criminal laws, crime is defined as an act or omission in violation of an established law of the place where the crime was committed. Act refers to an overt movement of any part of the body, while omission refers to one's failure to act or to perform a lawful duty which he is obliged to do. In order for an act or omission to be considered as a crime, there must be a law punishing that act or requiring a person to perform such lawful duty. Such laws may be the common law that are utilized in the United Kingdom, or a statute, like the Modern Penal Code, which is passed by the legislature of countries like the United States.
Crime is a generic term. It is used interchangeably with the term felony, violation or infraction by the criminal law of other countries. In the United Kingdom, an act or omission punishable by law is called as "offence." The violator may be termed as offender or defendant. A crime may be committed against a person like murder, against a property like theft, and against honor like defamation or intriguing against honor.
When a person commits an offence, he is usually subjected to two liabilities. First is the civil liability which is the payment of the damages capable of pecuniary estimation in monetary form; and the second is the criminal liability which will subject the offender to life imprisonment, imprisonment for several years, or even death sentence, if found guilty.
This research will only discuss that offences that can be committed against persons in the United Kingdom, the criminal liability the offender may incur, and the available defences he can utilize to lessen or even negate his criminal liability.
Actus Reus and Mens Rea
Under the English common law, criminal liability could only be incurred if two of its essential elements are present which are the actus reus and the mens rea. These essential requisites of criminal liability were based on the common law jurisdiction of the United Kingdom and are expressed in the Latin principle "actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea," which means "an act does not make a person guilty unless (his) mind is