Specialist London Solicitors in Murder cases
At MFI Law Limited we have the expertise in representing clients charged with murder. Our London Solicitors are available to represent clients at London Police Stations, Magistrates' and Crown Courts throughout the country.
Murder is governed by Common Law
Murder is the most serious offence in English Law. It is:
Where one person, of sound mind unlawfully kills another with the intention to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.
Intent for murder is the intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), nothing less. Foresight is no more than evidence from which the jury may draw the inference of intent.
The principle set out in R v Lane and Lane (1986) 82 Cr App R 5 and restated in R v Aston and Mason (1992) 94 Cr App R 180 is that where two people are jointly indicted for the commission of a crime and the evidence does not point to one rather than the other, and there is no evidence that they were acting in concert, the jury ought to acquit both.
Where association evidence is relied on, the circumstances of the association of the suspect with the principal offender, together with the other evidence in the case, must give rise to the inference that the suspect was assisting or encouraging the principal's offence.
The prosecution must always show a causal link between the act/omission and the death.
The act or omission must be a substantial cause of death, but it need not be the sole or main cause of death. It must have more than minimally negligibly or trivially contributed to the death.
However, where it is alleged that an omission was a substantial cause of death, causation is particularly difficult. It is necessary to prove to the criminal standard that but for the omission the deceased would not have died.
To break the “chain of causation” an intervening act must be such that it becomes the sole cause of the victim's death so as to relieve the defendant of liability. (Consider R v Kennedy (2007) 3 W.L.R. 612 below in Cases where death results from the unlawful supply of drugs.)
Examples of intervening acts are:
- Third party interventions: such an act will not break the chain unless it was a free, deliberate, informed, voluntary act, which was not reasonably foreseeable by a reasonable person: R v Pagett (1983) 76 Cr App R 279.
- Acts of God or nature can break the chain if entirely unforeseen and unconnected with the defendant's act.
- An act of the victim will break the chain if not within the range of response which might be anticipated from a victim in his situation: R v Roberts (1972) 56 Cr App R 95 and R v Williams & Davis 1992 CLR 198. Note: Reeves v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (HOL) 2000 1 AC 560 where it was accepted that if the police were aware that the prisoner was a known suicide risk then a special duty of care existed and that Novus actus interveniens did not apply where he then went on to commit suicide.
- Death resulting from any normal medical treatment employed to deal with a criminal injury must be regarded as caused by the criminal injury. It is only in the most extraordinary case that treatment designed to repair the harm done by the original attack could be regarded as the cause of the victim's death to the exclusion of the accused's act: R v Cheshire (1991) 3 All ER 670.
The defendant must take his victim as he finds him under the ‘egg-shell skullrsquo; rule: R v LeBrun (1991) 4 All ER 673
Our experience in successfully defending Murder Cases
R-v-S and Three Others A lengthy murder investigation which resulted in four of the accused being indicted after 6 years. Three out of the four defendants were represented by Mr Mahomed Ismail at the police station. This case involved a very complex area of law on identification. All charges were the subject of formal not guilty verdicts.
R-v-B&G A case concerning two men whom were accused of a ride-by shooting in Stockwell. Mr Mahomed Ismail represented Mr G for murder who was subsequently acquitted during the trial.
R-v-DR Successful acquittal after trial of DR following a knife point murder in Pollards Hill, South West London.
Sentencing guidelines for Murder
Murder carries a mandatory life sentence. All offenders convicted of murder need to have a minimum term set. This is the minimum time that the offender will serve before being eligible for parole.
Criminal Justice Act 2003 Schedule 21
Paragraph 4 – whole life order. Paragraph 4(2) lists these factors:
- two or more victims involving specified aggravating features
- murder of child involving abduction, sexual or sadistic motivation
- murder for political, religious or ideological cause
- previous conviction for murder
Paragraph 5 – minimum term of 30 years. Paragraph 5(2) lists these factors:
- murder of a police or prison officer in the course of duty
- involving use of a firearm or explosive
- for gain, such as robbery, burglary or for payment
- intended to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice
- involving sexual or sadistic conduct
- murder of two or more persons
- racially or religiously aggravated or aggravated by sexual orientation
Paragraph 10 lists some additional aggravating factors:
- significant planning or premeditation
- victim particularly vulnerable due to age or disability
- mental or physical suffering inflicted on victim before death
- abuse of a position of trust
- duress or threats against another to facilitate commission of offence
- victim providing a public service or performing a public duty
- concealment, destruction or dismemberment of the body
Paragraph 11 – lists some mitigating factors:
- intention to cause serious bodily harm only
- lack of premeditation
- offender suffering from mental disorder or disability
- provocation not amounting to a defence of provocation
- offender acting to any extent in self-defence
- belief by the offender that the murder was an act of mercy
- offender's age
Relevant Case Law
R v Peters, Palmer and Campbell  2 Cr. App. R.(S.) 64 involved offenders aged under 20 when offence committed with intent to cause grievous bodily harm only. [5–239h] The protection of the public is achieved by the mandatory life sentence itself. The minimum term reflects the elements of punishment and deterrence.
R v Last, Holbrook and others  2 Cr. App. R.(S.) 101 involved offenders who had pleaded guilty.
R v Jones  2 Cr. App. R.(S.) 19 Detailed guidance given on a number of topics which included a minimum term of 30 years being upheld for a murder committed by deliberate arson.
R v Thomas  1 Cr. App. R.(S.) 14 considered the extent to which violence by prior to murder can be taken into account by judge when assessing minimum term.
R v Davies  1 Cr. App. R.(S.) 15 held in the context of a factual dispute that criminal standard of proof applies when determining the starting point for the minimum term under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Schedule 21.