The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Murder
  • The offence of murder
  • Elements of the offence of murder
  • Unlawful killing
  • Defining 'human being'
  • Intervening acts
  • Absence of a body
  • Intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm
  • Proof of intention
  • Unintended victim
  • More...


The offence of murder

Murder is an offence that can only be tried in the Crown Court.

Elements of the offence of murder

The elements of the offence of murder are:

  1. an unlawful killing

  2. of any human being

  3. caused by the act or omission of the defendant

  4. with the intent to:

    1. kill, or

    2. cause grievous bodily harm

Unlawful killing

The unlawful killing of a human being means killing without legal justification. Legal justification might involve a killing in self-defence or as a result of bona fide medical or surgical treatment. See Practice Note: Self defence.

The former requirement that the death had to follow within a year and a day of the killing was abolished by the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996 (LR(YDR)A 1996). However, where the death occurred before the 17 June 1996 the one-year-and-a-day rule continues to apply.

Under LR(YDR)A 1996, the Attorney General's consent is required before proceedings can be brought for a fatal offence including murder, where either:

  1. the injury alleged to have caused death was sustained more than three years before the death occurred, or

  2. the person has previously been convicted of an offence committed in circumstances alleged to be connected with the death

The killing does not necessarily require any contact between the killer and their victim or use of any weapon. In R v Huggins (1730) 1 Barn KB 358 (not reported by LexisNexis®), a jailer

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