Coincidence of actus reus and mens rea.

Fagan v MPC (1969)

R v Church (1966)

R v Kaitamaki (1985)

R v Lebrum (1992)

R v Thabo Meli (1954)

Fagan v MPC (1969)

The concept of a continuing act was used in this case to allow what seemed to be an omission, to be treated as a positive act.

D was told by a police officer to bring his car closer to the curb. He obeyed the order, but in doing so he accidentally drove his car onto the constables foot. The constable shouted, ìget off youíre on my footî to which the D replied ìfuck you, you can waitî and turned off the ignition.

He was convicted of assaulting the police officer in the execution of his duty and appealed on the grounds that at the time he committed the act of driving onto the officers foot, he lacked the mens rea, and although he had the mens rea when he refused to remove the car, this was an omission and the actus reus required was a positive act. His appeal was dismissed and the court held that driving on to the officers foot and staying there was one continuous act, rather than an act followed by an omission - so long as the D had the mens rea at some point during the continuing act, he was liable.

R v Kaitamaki (1985)

The same principle as in Fagan was held to apply in this case. The D was charged with rape. His defence was that at the time he penetrated the woman, he had thought she was consenting. However, when he realised she was not consenting he did not withdraw. The court held that the actus reus of rape was a continuing act, and so when D realised his V did not consent (thus forming the necessary mens rea) the actus reus was still in progress.

R v Thabo Meli (1954)

Here the courts interpreted a series of acts as one transaction. The Dís had attempted to kill their V by beating him over the head, then threw what the assumed a dead body over a cliff. V did die, but from the fall and the exposure, and not form the beating, thus there was an argument that at the time of the actus reus, the Dís no longer had the mens rea. The Privy Council held that throwing V over the cliff was part of a series of acts following a preconceived plan of action, and therefore couldnít be seen as separate acts at all, but as a single transaction. The Dís had the required mens rea when the transaction began and therefore mens rea and actus reus had coincided for the purposes of law.

R v Church (1966)

D had taken a woman out in his van for sexual purposes. She was not at all impressed with his performance and slapped D across the face. A fight ensured and V was knocked out. D, wrongly believing that he had killed V, threw what he thought was a dead body into the river in a panic. The V drowned. The Court applied the Thabo Meli principle of a ëseries of actsí leading to the Vís death to convict him of manslaughter.

R v Lebrum (1992)

D argued with his wife in the street in the early hours of the morning and struck her unlawfully, although not intending to do her really serious harm. V fell unconscious and D, in an attempt to conceal the assault, tried to move her. V slipped from Dís grasp and struck her head on the pavement from which she died. D was convicted of manslaughter on the basis that the assault and the eventual act causing death were part of the same.