Gross Negligence Manslaughter - New Offence After R V Evans

Submitted by: Submitted by

Views: 790

Words: 2160

Pages: 9

Category: Other Topics

Date Submitted: 08/31/2011 09:35 PM

Report This Essay

In R v Gemma Evans Court of Appeal arguably introduced a duty of care in gross negligence manslaughter, for a person who has been “instrumental in the supply of drugs”. The law on manslaughter was set in the Homicide Act 1957 and in subsequent case law – manslaughter generally refers to crime of killing a person without intention to do so, while negligence refers to a breach of duty of care.

Academic criticisms of R v Evans lead to conclude that this decision was wrong, on several accounts – not only it is said to misapply law, but also produce injustice due to disproportionate labelling. However, court seems to be in a tragic position, as there does not seem to be a good solution in sight. To rule otherwise, would mean to leave such instances unpunished, which also offends the sense of justice. It might therefore be the high time to revaluate the idea of legislating a new offence of failure to rescue.

The facts of R v Gemma Evans were as follows. The defendant, a resident of Llaneli, was half-sister of the deceased Carly Townsend, and was found to have supplied her with heroin on 2 May 2007. Subsequently Gemma and Carly’s mother Andrea Townsend noticed Carly developed symptoms of overdose, and, realising seriousness of situation, failed to summon help. Instead, believing they are responsible for her, they have put her to bed, having an eye on her through the night, in hope that she will get better on her own. However in the morning Andrea Townsend discovered that Carly was dead. Gemma Evans was subsequently convicted at Crown Court for gross negligence manslaughter. She was allowed appeal to the Court of Appeal, contesting two points of law: firstly that there was no evidence that she had owed her sister duty of care, and secondly that causation was insufficiently established. The appeal was dismissed. The court gave following reasoning to its decision. Appreciating there is no pre-existing duty of care at common law, Lord Judge CJ noted the exemption...