Constructive manslaughter

  This page is updated by Dr Peter Jepson

R v Cato (1976)

R v Cato (1976)

2 drug addicts injected each other several times during the night with heroin. Each man made up his preferred mixture of the powder and water, loaded the syringe, and then passed it to his friend to perform the injection. By the morning they were both extremely ill and Dís friend died. The D survived and was charged with the manslaughter of his friend.

The court accepted that what he had done to his friend was not n offence under the OAPA (1861). However it held that it was an unlawful act, which was the taking of unlawfully into his possession for the purposes of mixing and injecting. While the act of injecting itself was not an offence , it was so closely associated with the offence of possession that it was treated as sufficient to be part of the actus reus of manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act.