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More murder for Canberra

By johnboy - 10 December 2008 25

Simon Corbell has announced that Canberra is going to have more murders.

This is not normally considered to be a good thing, but in this case it probably is:

    “The Labor Government will introduce into the Legislative Assembly amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 to reform the offence of murder so that a person can be convicted of the offence when a person dies when the intention of the accused person was to inflict serious harm. Under ACT law as it currently stands an accused person in those circumstances could only be convicted for manslaughter, which carries a lesser maximum penalty than murder.”
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25 Responses to
More murder for Canberra
The Owl 1:15 am 11 Dec 08

Yes! it is about time the laws were changed in Canberra, what this means is, if someone murdereds another person you don’t have to prove it was pre-meditated, only intent to murder. I wonder when this new legislation will come into force, the sooner the better! Thats why there has only been one murder charge in Canberra for the last ten years as it was a pre-meditated murder, when Conway paid two thugs to murder his wife and was proven. Yipee!

boomacat 11:51 pm 10 Dec 08

Hello

Interesting discussion about the mechanics of “murder” versus “manslaughter”.

“Murder”, despite being commonly used to describe any incidence of one human killing another, actually has a technical legal meaning.

Generally speaking, all crimes require the proof of a “physical element” (also known by its latin name “actus reus”) and a “mental element” (“mens rea”). As the old saying goes, “a guilty mind must accompany the guilty act for a person to be liable for criminal punishment”.

In (I believe) all other States and Territories the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt to secure a murder conviction:
Physical elements – A person causes the death of another human being
Mental element – The killer intends to cause the death OR the killer intends to cause grievous bodily harm OR the killer acted with reckless indifference to human life (ie the prosecution must prove that the killer actually foresaw the probability that the deadly act would kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the victim but proceeded with the act regardless).

If the prosecution cannot prove either of those mental elements, then generally speaking the wrongful killing will be classified as “manslaughter” rather than “murder”. A classic example is where someone dies as a result of a single punch to the head in a pub fight (this happens frequently). The person committed a wrongful act that resulted in the death of another, however never intended nor foresaw the possibility of causing death or grievous bodily harm to the victim, thus manslaughter rather than murder.

In the ACT however, the prosecution must prove that the accused either intended to cause the death OR acted with reckless indifference to human life to secure a murder conviction. In other words, unlike other states and territories, it is not sufficient to prove that they intended to cause grievous bodily harm. In the ACT, if the prosecution can only prove an intention to cause GBH, the accused can only be convicted of manslaughter.

I believe that Mr Corbell’s change is designed to bring the ACT in line with all other states and territories, so that now an intention to cause GBH will be sufficient to found a murder charge.

For completeness, I believe that the prosecution could establish all the elements of murder in Anu Singh and Glenn Porritt’s case, however the charge was reduced to manslaughter by way of the partial defence of “diminished responsibility” (kind of like a mini version of insanity), but I haven’t looked at those cases in detail for ages so I can’t remember for sure.

imhotep 8:53 pm 10 Dec 08

Yes Glenn Porrit, Anu Singh et al. This change in definition is just a legal technicality. It doesn’t mean a thing while the sentences for people convicted for both murder and manslaughter are so low in the ACT.

How about imposing some minimum sentences for either offence, or would that be too close to actually doing something rather than grandstanding?

Sleaz274 7:38 pm 10 Dec 08

I’m reminded of the fable about the horse and the gate. This all came about because in any other jurisdiction in Australia Glenn Porrit would be serving a long sentence for murder not a couple of years for manslaughter.

How you can stab someone 58 times without the intention to kill them is beyond me……….well unless your an acupuncturist……. ahh see it wasn’t beyond me. Mind you that guy used a knife

off i go now

tylersmayhem 2:19 pm 10 Dec 08

I think there would have to be consideration given to the examples Jim Jones has posted here.

Of curse, if you shove someone and they fall over, split their head and die by accident = manslaughter.

But beating the crap out of someone until they become unconcious, and often continuing the pummeling after that – then “it was by accident” should not slide. The only reason those types of f**kers say it was by accident is because they don’t want longer prison time. It’s the extreme of anti-social behavior. Get them away from the genteral public for as long as possible please!

Primal 1:18 pm 10 Dec 08

Wouldn’t it be easier just to jack up the maximum penalty for manslaughter and leave the divide at intent to kill vs intent to harm?

Gungahlin Al 12:08 pm 10 Dec 08

A positive change. However I’m sure the solicitors will have a field day building the body of case law that defines “serious”.

Jim Jones 11:40 am 10 Dec 08

“If you are having an verbal argument with someone and your intention isn’t to inflict serious harm then it’s not murder.”

Yep. Realised this just after I’d posted.

Obviously I’m an idiot.

Thanks Whatsup.

jakez 11:36 am 10 Dec 08

Yeah what Whatsup said.

Personally I prefer the classic definition of murder, however in saying that I think the sentences for manslaughter should reflect the actions and intentions of the person.

ie, if they intended to inflict grievous bodiy harm, it should be manslaughter but their sentence should be hefty.

Still, that’s more word games than anything else. As long as people in the US get 8 years for dealing marijuana while people in the ACT get basically nothing for murder, I think the world is pretty crazy.

Whatsup 11:32 am 10 Dec 08

Jim Jones said :

Surely there’s a big difference between getting in a fight with someone (and a subsequent accidental death) and actually going out of your way to kill someone.

What if someone is arguing with another person, shoves them in the chest, and they trip over and split their head open – I don’t think that would justify a murder conviction, manslaughter would seem entirely adequate in many cases.

If you are having an verbal argument with someone and your intention isn’t to inflict serious harm then it’s not murder. If you decide to rough them up a bit, throw some punches and push them around then you are on notice. Put the brain in gear before throwing your weight around.

Pommy bastard 11:26 am 10 Dec 08

I have no problem with this.

The Brad 11:24 am 10 Dec 08

What if someone is arguing with another person, shoves them in the chest, and they trip over
Or if they have a heart attack and die, and you didn’t know they had a heart condition.

Surely those two would still incur a manslaughter charge.

But I agree that weapons used with violence should incur a stronger charge.

A thought – what if the person doing the shoving was a martial arts expert, and shoves with extreme malice?

Jim Jones 11:12 am 10 Dec 08

Surely there’s a big difference between getting in a fight with someone (and a subsequent accidental death) and actually going out of your way to kill someone.

What if someone is arguing with another person, shoves them in the chest, and they trip over and split their head open – I don’t think that would justify a murder conviction, manslaughter would seem entirely adequate in many cases.

BerraBoy68 10:48 am 10 Dec 08

Agreed, Ant. If you intend to inflict serious harm on someone and they die, that’s murder. Pure and simple. I’d prefer idiots be charged for this and then have to prove/disprove their level of intent etc. in court than be charged with a lesser offence before the case even starts.

ant 10:44 am 10 Dec 08

About time! It’s ludicrous that someone gets a slap on the wrist Manslaughter when, after kicking the crap out of someone, or sticking knives in them, they happen to die. If you bash someone up and they die, it’s murder cos you killed them and it wasn’t an accident.

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