unlawful is a common law offence and its

 unlawful act
and gross negligence manslaughter. Any person who causes the death of the
victim without the presence of the requisite mensrea will be liable for the

The offence of unlawful act manslaughter was defined
by the court of criminal appeal in the case of Larkin1 .
Humphreys Justice explained how liability for manslaughter arises through an
unlawful act:

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“Where the act which a person is engaged in performing
is unlawful , then if at the same time it is a dangerous act that is, an act
which is likely to injure another person, and quite inadvertently  the doer of the act causes the death of that
other person by that act, then he is guilty of manslaughter.”

It is a common law offence and its types are defined by
the House of Lords in DPP V Newbury and Jones2

The act must be Intentional, Unlawful, dangerous and
it must cause the death of the victim.

In order to make a person liable for the offence, the
prosecution must prove that the act is an intentional act and not an omission.
In the case of R V Lowe3
 it was held that an omission can never
be sufficient for the conviction of unlawful act manslaughter.

The defendant must commit a criminal offence, which
means that the act should be unlawful in the eyes of law. In the case of
,the Court of appeal  held that there
should be some proof of criminal offence and in this case there was no proof so
the defendant cannot be liable for the offense.

The act committed 
 must be dangerous from the point
of view of reasonable man and not the defendant. Lord Salmon stated in the case
of Church5

“In judging whether the act was dangerous the test is
not did the accused recognize that it was dangerous but would all sober and
reasonable people recognize its danger”.

The final requirement is that the defendant must cause
the death of the victim and there should be no intervening act which breaks the
chain of causation.

In the given question Keith has injected Janis with
the syringe of heroine and Kurt has injected himself but the syringe is
prepared by Keith, both kurt and Janis were willing to inject heroine into
their body.

 According to
the case of Cato6
when the victim dies as a result of injecting the class A drug by the defendant
then it is considered as malicious administration of a poison or noxious thing
so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm, contrary to sec.23 of
the offences against the persons act 1861.The consent of victim is no defense
in this case.

So in this case Keith will be liable for the death of
Janis and will be convicted for the offence of unlawful act manslaughter and
according to my viewpoint also Keith should be liable as he may not be knowing
that the heroine is contaminated but he committed a unlawful act by injecting
heroine into the body of Janis which was an intentional and dangerous act and
it causes death of Janis, so he should be liable for the same. The act of keith
will be considered unlawful for the purpose of unlawful act manslaughter.

On the other hand, Kurt self injected the syringe of
heroine which was prepared by Keith. The court of appeal held in the case of Dias7

 “Neither the
statute nor the common law provided for an offence of injecting oneself with a
controlled drug and thus the defendant could not be secondary party to this”

In the case of Rogers8
 the Court of appeal held that if the
victim self injects any controlled drugs then the defendant cannot be held
liable as a secondary party to that injection.

However, in the case of Finlay9
 the court of appeal took a different
view that the defendant could be the secondary party to the injection and can
be made liable for the offence even if it was self injection by the victim
because such self injection will be considered foreseeable.

This confusion was cleared by the House Of  Lords in the leading case of Kennedy10
(No. 2):

The defendant cannot be made liable for the offence of
unlawful act manslaughter if the victim died because of self injection as the
voluntary act of the victim breaks the chain of causation and supplying
controlled drugs to the victim will not amount to unlawful act for the purpose
of unlawful act manslaughter. But firstly the decision of the court of appeal in
(1999) Crim LR 65 was against the defendant as the court says that the act of the
defendant was not only limited to the supply of the drugs.


So in this case keith will not be liable for the death
of kurt and in my viewpoint also kurt was fully willing to self inject the
heroine into his body, the act of supplying the syringe of heroine to kurt does
not amount to be unlawful for the act of unlawful act manslaughter.

1 (1944)
29 Cr App R 18

2 1977)
AC 500

3 (1973)
QB 702

4 (1967)
2 QB 981

5 (1966)
1 QB 59

6 1976
1 WR 110

7 (2001)
EWCA Crim 2986

8 (2003)
EWCA Crim 945

9 (2003)
EWCA Crim 3868

10 (No.
2) (2007) UKHL 38:


11 (1999)
Crim LR 65