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Show Trial 2018

Case facts

Pat (female, 18, 5”4) and Bob (male, 18, 6”1) are second-year law students at Budmouth University. They are in a relationship. Beyond their law studies, they regularly go rowing together and are part of the university rowing team. Having won their last rowing competition and just finished their January exams at university they both decide to treat themselves to a night out in Budmouth. 

The night starts well and as it progresses they become quite intoxicated. On leaving the nightclub at 3am, they accidentally barge into Jason, a first-year psychology student (male, 18, 5”6) at Budmouth University, who is also leaving the same nightclub. As they walk past him, Jason loses his balance and stumbles to the ground. Jason, clearly shocked and upset as he picks himself up, demands an apology. The lack of apology or apparent concern from either Pat or Bob leads him to threaten them as they run off.

A short time later, as they wait by the bus stop, Jason approaches them to again demand an apology. Pat and Bob tell him to ‘get lost’ and Pat turns her back on him, whereupon, now getting very angry, Jason attempts to push Pat. Pat, not expecting the push, falls slightly forward, but due to her drunken state does not notice an ice patch nearby which she slips on. She unfortunately then falls over and rolls on the ground. Whilst looming over Pat, Jason for the third time demands an apology from them both.

He shouts to Bob ‘he is next’ if he doesn’t get an apology immediately. Bob, feeling threatened and fearing for his wellbeing and that of Pat, uses moderate force to push Jason. Pat picks herself up off the floor and runs at Jason as he is stumbling and pushes him with all her force. Jason unfortunately is flung across the path and has fallen awkwardly on the kerbstone, hitting his side. This leaves him slipping in and out consciousness. He tragically dies a short time later and his body is found by a bus conductor who calls the emergency services.

The Coroners’ report for Jason states that the cause of death was a ‘fractured rib cage, which punctured his lung and left him in a life-threatening condition’.

The next day, their recollection still slightly hazy, Pat and Bob are brought in for questioning by the police. There is DNA evidence from blood left at the bus stop from the fight. From this three blood types have been identified which match Pat, Bob and Jason respectively.

Pat and Bob are charged with Unlawful Act Manslaughter and are due to stand trial on 30 April 2018.

Legal notes:

Prosecution – Murder is very unlikely so Unlawful Act Manslaughter is the focus. Self-defence is rejected due to the excessive force used. Voluntary intoxication is sought as an aggravating sentencing factor.

Defence – Unlawful Act Manslaughter is the focus. Reasonable self-defence is applicable and the force used is not excessive. Voluntary intoxication is sought as a mitigating sentencing factor.

1.     Is the assault by Pat objectively dangerous? If so she is guilty.

2.     On self-defence, has excessive force been used? If self-defence, the jury must acquit the defendant (not guilty) as it is a full defence.

©Joseph Dance & Dr Max Lowenstein

Mooting Report: