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   Case summaries      R v Rodgers
R v Rodgers [2003] 1 WLR 1374 Court of Appeal

The appellant and Michael Tippett consumed a considerable quantity of cider. Tippett went to buy heroin for both of them and returned with two syringes, each half full. Tippett injected the appellant with one syringe and then injected himself. The appellant held his belt around Tippett's arm as a tourniquet whilst he injected himself. Tippett collapsed with cardiac arrest, never recovered and died eight days later. The trial judge held that the application of the tourniquet was "part and parcel of the unlawful act of administering heroin" that there was no difference from holding the end of the syringe while the deceased pressed the plunger, and that, therefore, there was no defence to either count. The appellant was convicted of administering a noxious thing under s.23 OAPA 1661 and constructive manslaughter. He appealed on 2 grounds:

1. That applying the tourniquet was not an unlawful act. The deceased's injection of himself was not an unlawful act. The appellant merely facilitated an act which was not unlawful.

2.The trial judge was wrong to rule that there was no issue of causation to be left to the jury.


Appeal was dismissed. Conviction for manslaughter was upheld.

Rose LJ:
"It is artificial and unreal to separate the tourniquet from the injection. The purpose and effect of the tourniquet, plainly, was to raise a vein in which the deceased could insert the syringe. Accordingly, by applying and holding the tourniquet, the appellant was playing a part in the mechanics of the injection which caused death. It is therefore, as it seems to us, immaterial whether the deceased was committing a criminal offence. ... A fortiori, as it seems to us, a person who actively participates in the injection process commits the actus reus and can have no answer to an offence under section 23 or a charge of manslaughter if death results. Once the appellant is categorised as such a participant, it being common ground that death resulted from the injection, no question arises in relation to causation."
Back to lecture outline on constructive manslaughter in criminal law