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Criminal Law News VIC

Causation in relation to manslaughter and grievous bodily harm

A Man plead guilty to Wounding with Intent to Inflict Grievous Bodily Harm for his Act of Shooting at Crews and Wounding his arm.

The accused was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a term of 9 years and 6 months, with a non-parole period of 7 years. He was also convicted of wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and sentenced to a term of 6 years and 3 months, with a non-parole period of 4 years and 9 months.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On Sept. 8, 2010, a search warrant was issued against the accused in relation to his residence and garage. A total of eight armed police officers were sent to implement the warrant, including Constable Crews (Crews) and Detective Senior Constable Roberts (Roberts), both of which were in civilian clothes.

In the course of the search, the accused discharged his pistol, aiming at Crews and hitting him in the arm. The police fired back, and in the ensuing chaos, Roberts, who was aiming at the accused, accidentally and fatally shot Crews in the neck.

The accused plead guilty to wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm for his act of shooting at Crews and wounding his arm. He also plead guilty to manslaughter for the death of Crews under the principle of causation.

As regards the charge of manslaughter, why would the accused plead guilty to an act that he did not commit? The principle of causation calls for the analysis of any proximate causes between the act committed and the resultant crime. Had the accused not discharged his pistol in the first place, the exchange of gunfire between him and the police officers would not have taken place.

Had this exchange not taken place, Roberts would not have accidentally shot Crews in the neck and killed him. Because the accused failed to reasonably foresee this string of events, he must be held liable for the offence of manslaughter.

Source: R v Nguyen [2013] NSWSC 197

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