Microsoft word - causation agenda.doc

R v Blaue (1975)
The defendant entered the home of an 18 year old woman and asked for sex. When
she declined his advances, he stabbed her four times; the wound penetrated her lung
which necessitated both a blood transfusion and surgery in order to save her life. After
refusing treatment because of her religious beliefs (i.e. Jehovah's Witness) she died.
Medical evidence showed that she would not have died if she had received treatment.
In his final speech to the jury, counsel for the Crown accepted that the girl’s refusal to
have a blood transfusion was a cause of her death. The prosecution did not challenge
the defence evidence that the defendant was suffering from diminished responsibility.
The defence argued that the victim’s refusal to accept medical treatment broke the
chain of causation between the stabbing and her death.
What was the chain of causation in the woman’s death?
What offence should the defendant be charged with?
Should the defendant be convicted of the offence? Why or why not?

R v Smithers (1977)

Defendant and deceased both young hockey players were the leading players in two
competing teams. During the game, which was rough, the players were aggressive and
feelings ran high. Defendant was subjected to racial insults by the deceased and other
members of the opposing team. Following a heated exchange of profanities defendant
and deceased were both ejected from the game. Defendant however indicated that he
intended to continue the confrontation and made repeated threats. The deceased was
apprehensive and left the arena at the end of the game. Outside, Defendant caught up
with him, attacked him and, though held back, managed to kick him in the abdomen.
Death resulted shortly thereafter. The medical evidence indicated that the deceased
had died from asphyxia from aspiration of foreign materials due to vomiting. Defendant
testified he had acted in self-defence.
What is the chain of causation in this case?
What offence should the defendant be charged with?
Should the defendant be convicted of the offence? Why or why not?
R v Jordan (1956)
The defendant, an American airman, stabbed a man named Walter Beaumont in a café
in Hull, on May 4, 1956. Beaumont died in hospital on May 12. At the trial evidence was
given on behalf of the prosecution by the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem
examination that the cause of death was broncho-pneumonia following penetrating
abdominal injury. The defence argued that death was caused by the introduction of
terramycin after the deceased man had shown that he was intolerant to it and by the
intravenous introduction of abnormal quantities of liquid. The stab wound had
penetrated the intestine in two places, but it was mainly healed at the time of death.
With a view to preventing infection it was thought right to administer an antibiotic,
terramycin. After the initial dose it was found that the patient was allergic to terramycin,
but unfortunately the very next day the resumption of such administration was ordered
by another doctor and it was recommenced the following day. Other steps were taken
which were also regarded by the doctors as wrong-namely, the intravenous introduction
of abnormal quantities of liquid. As a result the lungs became waterlogged and
broncho-pneumonia was discovered. The defendant was found guilty of murder and
sentenced to death.
What is the chain of causation in this case?
Should the defendant be allowed to appeal his conviction?
R v Nette (2001)
A 95-year-old Kelowna widow who lived alone was robbed and left bound with electrical
wire on her bed with a garment around her head and neck. Sometime during the next
48 hours, she died from asphyxiation. During an RCMP undercover operation, the
accused told a police officer that he had been involved in the robbery and death. The
accused was charged with first degree murder under s. 231(5) of the Criminal Code --
murder while committing the offence of unlawful confinement. At trial, he claimed that
he had fabricated the admission. He testified that he had gone alone to the victim’s
house only with intent to break and enter, that the back door to the house was open as
though someone already had broken into the home, and that he left after finding the
victim already dead in her bedroom.
What is the chain of causation in this case?
The defendant was convicted and lost his appeal… what charge do you think he should
have been convicted of? Check out Sec. 231 (5). What is the standard for causation


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