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R v Hayward (1908) 21 Cox 692

The defendant chased his wife out of the house shouting threats at her. She collapsed and died. He did not physically touch her. She was suffering from a rare thyroid condition which could lead to death where physical exertion was accompanied by fright and panic. Both the defendant and his wife were unaware she had this condition.


The defendant was liable for constructive manslaughter as his unlawful act (assault) caused death. The egg shell (thin) skull rule applied. He was therefore fully liable despite the fact an ordinary person of reasonable fortitude would not have died in such circumstances.
Back to lecture outline on causation in criminal liability
Back to lecture outline on constructive manslaughter