Specialist London Solicitors in Manslaughter cases
At MFI Law Limited we have the expertise in representing clients charged with manslaughter. Our London Solicitors are available to represent clients at London Police Stations, Magistrates' and Crown Courts throughout the country.
Manslaughter is defined as:
- Killing with the intent for murder but where a partial defence applies, namely loss of control, diminished responsibility or killing pursuant to a suicide pact
- Conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and did kill, is manslaughter (“gross negligence manslaughter”)
- Conduct taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that resulted in death, is manslaughter (“unlawful and dangerous act manslaughter”)
Maximum Sentence: Life imprisonment
Sentencing guidelines for involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary Manslaughter – Cases arising out of fights
Attorney General's Reference (No.60 of 2009); R v Appleby and others  Cr.App.R.(S.) 46 – guideline
Conjoined cases providing examples of cases falling outside the single punch manslaughter category. The Court of Appeal observed that the description single punch manslaughter is misleading unless strictly confined to cases where death results from a single blow with a bare hand or fist in the circumstances described, for which R v Furby (see below) continues to provide valuable assistance. An additional feature of manslaughter cases which has come to be seen as a serious aggravating feature is the public impact of violence on the streets, whether in city centres or in residential areas. Specific attention should be paid to the problem of gratuitous violence in city centres and streets.
R. v Fisher  2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 34
Appellants pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the close of the prosecution case during a murder trial. The deceased was chased up a hill, knocked to the ground and surrounded by a group who kicked him and stamped on his head. He died three days later due to external and internal bleeding resulting from fractures of the nose and skull. Sentences of nine years imprisonment upheld.
R v Jones  1 Cr.App.R.(S) 73
Appellant, having been indicted for murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Within a block of flats, the deceased challenged the appellant to fight. Having pulled the deceased down some stairs, the appellant kicked or stamped on him several times. The deceased died a month later due to severing of the end of the pancreas caused by a single blow to the abdomen crushing the pancreas against the spine. Sentence of six years imprisonment reduced to four years.
R v Furby  2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 8 – guideline case
Appellant and deceased were good friends. For a reason that the court regarded as an explicable reaction, the appellant struck a single punch of moderate force to the right cheek, the deceased collapsed to the ground and died due to a subarachnoid haemorrhage. Appellant of good character. Sentence reduced to 12 months imprisonment. Case law cited confirms that if there are aggravating circumstances the sentence could be as high as four years.
Sentencing guidelines for Manslaughter Diminished Responsibility
Manslaughter Diminished Responsibility
If a defendant is convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility if the psychiatric reports recommend and justify it and there are no contrary indications then a hospital order is the likely disposal.
R v Chambers 5 Cr. App. R. (S) 190.
In diminished responsibility cases there are various courses open to a judge. Choice of the right course will depend on the state of the evidence and the material before him.
- If the psychiatric reports recommend and justify it, and there are no contrary indications, he will make a hospital order.
- Where a hospital order is not recommended, or is not appropriate, and the defendant constitutes a danger to the public for an unpredictable period of time, the right sentence will, in all probability, be one of life imprisonment.
- In cases where the evidence indicates that the accused's responsibility for his acts was so grossly impaired that his degree of responsibility for them was minimal, then a lenient course will be open to the judge. Provided that there is no danger of repetition of violence, it will usually be possible to make such an order as will give the accused his freedom possibly with some supervision.
- There will however be cases in which there is no proper basis for a hospital order, that in which the accused's degree of responsibility is not minimal. In such cases the judge should pass a determinate sentence of imprisonment, the length of which will depend on two factors: his assessment of the degree of the accused's responsibility his view as to the period of time, if any, which the accused will continue to be danger to the public.
R v Welsh  EWCA Crim 73
Appellant pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 12 years. Appeal raised the issues whether it was correct to order a discretionary life sentence of a hospital order pursuant to MHA s37 with a s41 restriction.
Appellant who had schizophrenia stabbed a man to death in a totally unprovoked attack. Essence of appeal was that the safest course for the public was to see ensure that the appellant received medication and treatment within a secure hospital and his condition would then improve. If he was in prison he would fail to take his medication and would remain a danger.
The resolution of the appeal depended on whether the defendant's responsibility for his actions although diminished, remained substantial. The Court upheld the sentence and relied upon the appellant's bad record of repeated violence and that his taking of the knife used to kill to the scene to say that he bore substantial responsibility for his actions.
Another factor which the Court had to bear in mind was public confidence in their approach which could only be satisfied by ensuring that the issue was resolved in a way which best protects the public and reflects the gravity of the offence. Appeal dismissed.
Sentencing guidelines for Manslaughter Gross Negligence
Manslaughter gross negligence
There is a wide spectrum of sentencing in gross negligence manslaughter cases. What those cases revealed were that such an offence would be aggravated by:
- multiple deaths
- prolonged and deliberately dangerous course of conduct
- an awareness of a significant risk of death or really serious injury
- ignoring warnings
- pursuing a course of conduct for financial gain
Sentencing guidelines for Manslaughter Provocation
Low degree of provocation: Sentence Range: 10 years – life
A low degree of provocation occurring over a short period Starting Point – 12
Substantial degree of provocation: Sentence Range: 4–9 years
A substantial degree of provocation occurring over a short period – Starting Point – 8 years custody
High degree of provocation: Sentence Range: if custody is necessary, up to 4 years
A high degree of provocation occurring over a short period – Starting Point – 3 years
Sentencing guidelines for Manslaughter Suicide Pact
Manslaughter suicide pact
R. v Sweeney (1986) 8 Cr. App. R.(S.)
The appellant pleaded guilty to manslaughter of his wife. He was prone to depression and his wife suffered from muscular dystrophy. They decided to commit suicide by setting fire to their car while they were inside it. They swallowed tablets, and he poured petrol and set light to it. They tried to escape from the car, but she was unable to do so and died. He suffered serious burns and was permanently scarred. The Court held that even desperate people must be deterred form taking life, and that those who contemplated suicide and did not achieve it in a suicide pact would be punished if the other party died. Sentence reduced two years imprisonment.