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Homicide Analysis

Case outline: Anthony attacked Vivian, Alex and Ben pass by and Ben who has first aid experience attempts to help while Alex does nothing. Later ben gives up and goes for a meeting. Dr. Eric does not spot Vivian’s injuries and assumes she is unconscious from drunkenness; she dies from the injuries two hours later. The inquest determines had she received immediate treatment she would have recovered.

Anthony’s Perspective

            In UK, murder is a serious offence regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental. This is because law protects life more than anything else. In addition, all kinds of violence are illegal and nobody is barred by constitution from committing any kind of violence. The only people who are allowed to take life of an individual are law enforcement officers but under certain conditions as specified by the constitution. Hence, when looking at the case of Anthony and Vivian, Anthony was criminally liable for the death of Vivian in accordance to the law as proved by the case of R v Woolin as shown in the Times.

This is because murder, under the UK Law, is defined as “a crime where a person of sound mind unlawfully kills any reasonable creature, referring to a human being, in being under the Queen’s peace with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.” As a matter of fact, Anthony is supposed to be charged with violent attack and murder even though there were other factors that facilitated death of Vivian. Anthony is the main killer and the major suspect of Vivian’s death regardless of his mental state. This is because, initially, laws did not view death caused by people who are suffering from mental disorders as murder. However, with the implementation of new laws, murder is death caused by another person regardless of his/her state of mind. This has been facilitated by the development of courts and jails for people with mental disorders. Since all people are equal before the law, it was illegal for Anthony to attack Vivian regardless of whether he indented to kill her or not, whether he had mental problems or with sound mind.

However, it is uncertain from the available information as to whether the law of premeditated murder can be used against Anthony in this case. If this law is not used, then Anthony may have the defense loss of control applied but will depend on his relationship with Vivian and the reasons cited for the loss of control. However, since the laws accept any attack or killing so longer as it is with intention of self defense against attack that will probably claim your life, the time that Anthony’s loss of control was experienced prior to the crime will be of great significance. This is because it will determine how relational it was with the committing of crime. This is in accordance to the Queen’s law which states that “The desire for revenge for an act done is not covered by the defense loss of control” (Coroners’ and Justice Act 2009).

It is therefore, clear that the death of Vivian was caused by serious head injuries that she incurred that following an attack by Anthony. The attack on Vivian and the consequences show a clear intent to cause grievous bodily harm. It resulted in making her unconscious, and eventually death. When putting all these factors and laws regarding death into consideration, Anthony is a murderer hence, liable for the death of Vivian.

Alex

            According to the constitution and laws, it is illegal to expose animals, plants and human beings to any conditions or factors that may lead to their death. It is also constitutional responsibility of every citizen to save life. Hence, by leaving Vivian lying unconsciously without helping her, Alex had exposed Vivian to dangerous conditions that to some extend led to her death. Alex was therefore, liable for the death of Vivian although indirectly. The fact that Alex lacked first aid experience was not a reason for him to leave Vivian lying unconsciously, he would have called ambulance or seek assistance from other person who might not have been in a hurry. By doing this, maybe he would have saved Vivian’s life as expected of him by the constitution.

Ben

            After sporting Vivian lying unconsciously, Ben tried to use knowledge in first aid to save Vivian’s life. Despite the fact that Ben’s support was not enough to save Vivian’s life; he had fully played his role and responsibility as a citizen to save life. Hence, Ben was not liable for the death of Vivian. However, it was illegal for him to leave Vivian after starting to give her first aid because it is illegal in UK to stop caring for a victim once you have started to give him/her any kind of assistance including first aid, as it is assumed that you become liable for the welfare of the victim once you start helping him or her. Furthermore, human life is more important than any kind of job and Ben could not have preferred securing job over the life of Vivian. Ben can also be charged with misfeasance suppose he left Vivian’s condition worse than it was before he attempted the rescue attempt.

However, if Vivian’s condition worsened after the first aid administered by Ben, or he left her in a worse condition than she was when he found her, then Ben can be held liable. The liability will arise from perceived negligence by the rescuer who did not act in an entirely careful manner with the victim; as held by Lord Goff in Smith v Littlewoods Organisation. This could mean that Ben, being a trained first aider, had failed to provide the required standard of aid, and consequently be sued for lack of provision of standard care.

The Doctor

            Apart from Anthony who inflicted serous damages on Vivian, the doctor is also highly accountable for the death of Vivian. This is because it is constitutional right for every citizen to access quality and proper health care. All healthcare providers are supposed to be qualified people with high skills regarding human health. It is under no any constitution and doctors’ ethics that their work is based on assumptions. Hence, it was illegal and unethical for the doctor to assume that Vivian was drunk without carrying out any test. This did not only violate his work ethics, but also Vivian’s rights as he accused her falsely.

The arrival of Vivian and the examination by the doctor places the doctor legally in duty of care for the patient. According to the constitution, this duty of care is defined as “Not existent generally between one citizen and the other”, that is, no Good Samaritan rule for citizens under the Queen’s law. Thus, as a professional, the doctor would have carried out all necessary tests in order to identify the cause and degree of damage other than assuming despite the fact that “the relationship between the doctor and the patient is created when the doctor begins the diagnosis,” as advocated for by Lord Aitken in Donoghue vs. Stevenson. This is because it means that “The requirements of foreseeability, proximity, fairness and justice have been established by the created relationship.” A mutual contract is established by the doctor and the patient and the doctor owes the patient the right to standard care.

“The doctor’s negligence to perform a full diagnosis is prosecutable because it was proved to be the main cause of Vivian’s,” in accordance to the House of Lords in Caparo v Dickman. Hence, this will be treated as a case of medical negligence, which resulted in the death of a patient. This is because suppose the correct and timely diagnosis was given, then Vivian would have survived. The doctor will therefore, be held partially liable for the death of his patient. However, the doctor may also have some defense for his actions including his state of mind due to fatigue though this will be unprofessional. But when putting into consideration laws governing doctors and their duties, in addition to the presented facts, then the doctor faces liability for contributing to a patient’s demise.

Conclusion

            In general, the death of Vivian was facilitated by many people and could have been avoided suppose everybody could have followed laws and took his or her responsibilities in accordance to the constitution. Since the attack by Anthony was the initial cause of the state through which Vivian was undergoing, the question that follows is that; had all events that followed not happened, would Vivian have died? The answer is no. the injuries inflicted to Vivian by Anthony’s attack were the major cause of her death. But the doctor would have saved Vivian by treating and diagnosing her injuries if he was professional enough. Therefore, as much as Eric and Ben share the liability for negligence, they cannot be charged with homicide. Anthony is responsible for Vivian’s death, as she died of the injuries he inflicted upon her.

 Cases Cited

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee (1957) Case

Caparo v Dickman(1990) House of Lords

Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) AC 562 Lord Aitken

Osterlind v Hill (1928) 160 NE 301

R v Moloney (1985) AC 905 House of Lords

R v Woolin (1998) The Times, July 23.

Smith v Littleton Woods Organization Ltd (1987) 2 AC 241