Bournemouth and

Poole College

Sixth Form Law

Bournemouth and

 Poole College

Text Only

Privacy & cookies

Change Text Size

Sixthform logo

Cases - murder - defences - assisting suicide

Sixthform logo

Home | Dictionary | Past papers | Cases | Modules | Exam dates  | National Exam Results | What's new?

Google logo  

 

Cocker, R v [1989] CA

Cox, R v (1992) Winchester Crown Court, Ognall J

Dunbar (deceased) v Plant [1997] CA (Civil Division)

Jennison, R v (1998)

Pitman, R v (1997)

Trevor Royall

Yaniv Malka, R v (2000) CA

Cocker, R v [1989] CA

[Assisting suicide – sentencing – courts’ attitude]
D's wife suffered from an incurable disease and was severely incapacitated. D suffocated her with a pillow and was charged with murder. He argued that he had been provoked by her repeated pleas to end her life.


Held
:  this could not amount to provocation because there had been no loss of self-control.

 

D guilty

Cox, R v (1992) Winchester Crown Court, Ognall J

[Assisting suicide – sentencing – courts’ attitude]
D, a GP injected a lethal dose of potassium chloride into his patient V who shortly afterwards she died comparatively peacefully.  V Lillian Boyes was an elderly lady, terminally ill and in constant severe pain. With the knowledge and approval of her family, she asked D to end her suffering by hastening her death.

 

Held: D could not be charged with murder, because B had been cremated before any suspicion arose and the cause of her death could not conclusively be proved, but the jury found him guilty of attempted murder and the judge passed a suspended prison sentence.

 

Guilty of attempted murder given a 12 month suspended prison sentence

Also here

 

^[Suicide pacts - effect on surviving party - rights to property of deceased and life insurance]

D and her fiancé,  resolved to commit suicide together. They agreed to hang themselves by jumping from a ladder at the same time. D survived. She was not prosecuted for any offence.
The fiancé's father sort to determine D’s entitlement to the house which they had jointly owned and to the proceeds of an insurance policy written for her benefit.

The forfeiture rule (the rule of public policy which precluded a person who had unlawfully killed another from gaining a benefit in consequence of the killing) applied to prevent D from succeeding to the deceased’s interest in the house and from entitlement to the insurance money.

 

Held: D had aided and abetted suicide therefore  the forfeiture rule applied, but in trying to do justice between the parties, and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the fact that in the case of the survivor of a suicide pact the public interest would not normally call for forfeiture, the court would order that there should be full relief against the effect of the forfeiture rule.

 

D was allowed to keep the house and receive insurance money.

Jennison, R v (1998)

[Assisting suicide – sentencing – courts’ attitude]
D assisted the suicide of her mother.  After giving her 23 sleeping pills and (when she found her unconscious but still alive) suffocating her with a pillow. The prosecution was unable to prove the specific cause of death required for a murder charge.

 

Held: D was put on probation (now community punishment order) for a year; she had honestly believed this was what her mother wanted, and the judge said her culpability was at the lowest end of the scale.

Pitman, R v (1997)

[Assisting suicide – sentencing – courts’ attitude]
D a 46-year-old man assisted the suicide of V his mother. He held a shotgun to her head while she pulled the trigger. V endured years of agony from arthritis and wished to die to escape the pain.

Held
: there was no risk of D's re-offending, but the offence called for a sentence of nine months' imprisonment; in the exceptional circumstances, it would be suspended for two years.

Trevor Royall

In 1996 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute aged 74, who survived a suicide pact with his wife. Both were ill, the wife from arthritis and he from a prostate condition, and took drugs and alcohol before the husband tied polythene bags over both their heads. The husband's bag was just loose enough that he survived to be found by a visitor next morning, but there was no doubt as to his intentions.

Yaniv Malka, R v (2000) CA

[Suicide pact - mass of evidence - no need to direct the jury]

D met the deceased V whilst on holiday. They lived together for a while. D claimed they both decided to commit suicide because they were both so depressed and just wanted to be together "at a better place".

D stated that he was unable to strangle V so she went to the bathroom and hanged herself. D failed to hang himself, or die from drinking bleach, tablets and alcohol, and failed to jump from a balcony.

Held: If D killed V whilst acting in pursuance of the suicide pact the conviction ought to have been on a charge of manslaughter. It was unthinkable, in determining the mass of evidence surrounding the killing, that there were doubts as to the safety of the conviction.

Guilty

 

© 2000-2008 M Souper  Copyright reserved | disclaimer

 Law Weblog | Contact us |

Please visit the FREE Hunger Site