Culpable Homicide vs Murder

QUESTION
Nicole a catwalk model was found dead in her bedroom last week. The autopsy report shows that the cause of death is asphyxia (suffocation) which was caused by respiratory failure due to a broken rib and also strangulation.

Simpson, a burly 35-year-old-man living next door to Nicole was later arrested by the police. He admitted that he had gone to Nicole’s house on pretence of borrowing some money. When she went into her bedroom to get her handbag, he stealthily followed her and pushed her onto her bed. He was trying to force himself on Nicole when she started screaming.

Simpson then sat on top of her and put his hand over her mouth with his elbow squeezed hard on her neck. He finally let go of her when he noticed that she had ceased struggling. It was then he realized that she had stopped breathing and tried to revive her but to no avail.

During trial, Simpson claims that he had only wanted to silence her and had no intention to kill Nicole as he loved her very much.

In the light of the above facts, determine Simpson’s liability for the death of Nicole under the appropriate limb/s to Section 300 of Penal Code.


ANSWER
In the first place, as per in s 300 of Penal Code (‘PC’) has defined the term of murder where it is a subset of the offence of culpable homicide which is stated in s 299. Technically, culpable homicide and murder can be defined as the same nature of act, in a simplest sentence, culpable homicide can be described as murder. However, there are some exceptions to the extent where culpable homicide is not considered as murder by which of provocation, private defence, being or aiding a public servant acting for the public justice, murder committed without premeditation or instigation.

It is really crucial to distinguish cases between culpable homicide and murder. The general principles of culpable homicide with respect to the proof of intention and knowledge. Hence, in order to prove the intention and knowledge of committing murder or culpable homicide, the prosecution ought to prove the physical and fault elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt and further, in order for the defence to succeed, the accused must prove the defence on the balance of probability. According to s 299, stated that whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death or such bodily injury as is prone to cause death or with the knowledge that such act to cause death commits of culpable homicide.

By applying to the case of Simpson, the issue is whether Simpson had committed murder or culpable homicide towards Nicole. This requires proof that the accused himself intended to kill or injure or knew the death was likely to result and if there are factors that make the accused different from the ordinary person in any material way, hence these differences should be taken into consideration by the court.

On top of that, the first fact that must be concerned about, whether Simpson went to Nicole’s house with bona fide or to kill her instead. Verifying the intention is an essential element that must be proved by the defendant where in order to distinguish culpable homicide and murder. In light of the fact that, culpable homicide might involve the intention of causing death but the degree of having an intention to cause death towards someone is higher by committing murder than culpable homicide.

Thus, in this case, Simpson ought to prove whether he was really intending to cause death or otherwise towards Nicole. The fact had shown that Simpson went to Nicole’s house by pretending to borrow her some money, then later he followed and pushed her onto her bed where here it can be said that he actually planned something that might be prone to kill her.

Pertaining to the premeditation, it will occur when the accused person really has an intention to cause the victim death whereas in culpable homicide, there would be no planning or premeditation on the part of the accused due to the nature of the act per se may occur by way of a sudden intention to kill someone due to provocation, private defence and such, as provided in the exceptions in s 300. It seems that fact had clearly shown that Simpson had planned to kill or injure Nicole by pretending to borrow her some money. Therefore, Simpson can be charged under s 300(a) where in this subsection, it states matters relating to intention where it may be associated with the premeditation, by saying that if someone who really has an intention to kill another person, he might plan something on how, where and when to kill that person. Thus, such a state of fact can be related to Simpson’s case.

Furthermore, based upon the fact stated where Simpson was trying to force himself on Nicole when she started screaming, this shows that he in fact had caused her injure by means of forcing her violently hard which totes caused her screaming and due to that scream he sat on top of her and put his hand over her mouth with his elbow and squeezed hard on her neck which caused her a broken rib. Hence, such acts are really prone to cause injure or might as well will kill Nicole, and further, such acts are also different from the ordinary person in any material way though. A reasonable man should have known that such acts will absolutely cause hurt or to the extent will cause someone to die. Hence, on this part, Simpson might lose in defending himself because he had done and caused hurt towards Nicole physically. This can be referred to s 300(d) where it states that, if the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous or such bodily injury that it must in all probability cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death or injury will amount to murder.

Despite that, the court will figuratively find the reason of whether such acts done by Simpson were in a part of his plan or he was doing it unintentionally. Hence, intention and knowledge must be distinguished from premeditation, desire and motive. This is because, a person can form an intention to kill on the spur of the moment and without pre-planning. This can be seen in the case of Ismail bin Hussin, where the court held that any premeditation designs to kill someone will amount to murder. As well as in the case of DPP v Smith, thus, as a result of Simpson’s acts done towards Nicole, ever since he came to Nicole’s house by pretending to borrow her some money till the part where he squeezed hard on Nicole’s neck by using his elbow might show that he had planned everything which means that he had an intention to kill Nicole.

Nevertheless, he at last noticed that Nicole had stopped breathing upon letting go of her, that was when he realized that Nicole died and he was trying to revive her but failed. By virtue of s 300(c), where it provided that if the act done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person and such act intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death will to the extent amount as murder. It is sorta confusing to say whether Simpson had really intended to cause her death or he was simply at the point where he could not think straight as a reasonable man because during the trial he stated that he actually loved her so much.

Assuming that, Nicole had no feelings for him and due to that matter, he could not cease himself from seeing Nicole with any other person, yet he had no intention to cause her death simply because he wanted her that much and because of the fact that Nicole was a model and he knew that he could never own her. Due to that fact, he killed her. Provided in the case of Schultz v R, where the court took into consideration of the accused’s mental condition which might be relevant to his culpability. Taking account of a person’s individual characteristics in this way does not, of course, mean that he did not have the requisite intent. Indeed, in this case, a properly directed jury concluded that he had formed the intention to kill and he was duly convicted of murder.

In a nutshell, murder is killing with malice aforethought or where it is confined to an intent to kill or cause serious injury. Referring to this case, it shows that Simpson had planned to cause injure to Nicole by pretending to borrow her some money. But on the part of killing her, that he stated during the trial where he had only wanted to silence her and had no intention to kill Nicole because he loved her very much is very unclear. However, the court will take into account the reason why he wanted to silence her and why he had to pretend to borrow her some money. This part might bring some points to say that he had an actual intention to cause her death and that would bring the meaning where he actually had prepared or planned to kill Nicole where it means that he had formed the intention to kill. Hence, it is to be said that Simpson was duly convicted of murder as per in s 300, therefore, he might be punished with death as provided in s 302 of the PC.


I know it ain’t good enough, but I simply wanna share with you guys on how to actually answer criminal law papers. Sorry for any paucity of information.

Thanks for reading anyways!

F.R

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