Thursday, 13 April 2017
R v. Cheshire (1991)1 WLR 844
The defendant shot a man in the stomach and thigh. The man was taken to hospital where he was operated on and developed breathing difficulties. The hospital gave him a tracheotomy (a tube inserted into the windpipe connected to a ventilator). Several weeks later his wounds were healing and no longer life threatening, however, he continued to have breathing difficulty and died from complications arising from the tracheotomy. The defendant was convicted of murder and appealed.
His conviction was upheld despite the fact that the wounds were not the operative cause of death. Intervening medical treatment could only be regarded as excluding the responsibility of the defendant if it was so independent of the defendant's act and so potent in causing the death, that the jury regard the defendant's acts as insignificant. Since the defendant had shot the victim this could not be regarded as insignificant.