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DPP v Newbury [1977] AC 500 House of Lords

Two 15 year old boys threw a paving slab off a railway bridge as a train approached. The paving slab went through a glass window on the cab of the train and struck the guard killing him. The boys were convicted of manslaughter. The Court of Appeal dismissed the boys' appeals. The boys appealed to the Lords with the following certified question of law:

" can a defendant be properly convicted of manslaughter, when his mind is not affected by drink or drugs, if he did not foresee that his act might cause harm to another?"


There is no requirement that the defendant foresees that some harm will result from his action. The applicable law is that stated in R v Larkin as modified in R v Church. The statement relating to foresight made by Lord Denning in Gray v Barr was erroneous and not binding in the criminal division of the Court of Appeal.
Back to lecture outline on constructive manslaughter in Criminal Law