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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

Steve Wright guilty of murders of five women

21/02/2008

The prosecution of Steve Wright for the murders of five young women is one of the biggest cases ever handled by the Crown Prosecution Service in Suffolk, said one of the CPS lawyers in the case, Michael Crimp.

Mr Crimp, Crown Advocate for CPS Suffolk said: "We have said throughout this case that Steve Wright is the common denominator who links all five women. Significant amounts of his DNA were found on three of the victims and fibres from his car, home and clothing were found on all five.

"My colleague, Robert Sadd, and I were briefed on the case by Suffolk Constabulary before any arrests were made and we have worked in close contact with the police throughout. We advised on a number of legal issues both before and after arrest and as the case developed we have carefully examined and assessed the evidence.

"Our assessment was that Steve Wright connected to all these women and that connection was not just a coincidence. He was the last person to see them alive and the scientific evidence proved he was responsible for their deaths."

One particularly telling piece of evidence, said Mr Crimp, was a carpet fibre from the foot well of Steve Wright's car. He said: "A single, black, nylon fibre was found in Tania Nicol's hair. This is despite her body being put in water. Her killer failed to destroy this significant piece of evidence.

"Steve Wright also failed to give a satisfactory explanation of why blood from two of the victims was on his jacket."

The question people will be asking now, said Robert Sadd, Crown Advocate for CPS Suffolk, is: Why did Wright do it? He said: "We will probably never know why. Quite often in a murder case we do not know the motive or understand it if we do. The evidence leads us to who did it and that's more important.

"In the last 14 months the entire CPS Suffolk office has worked towards supporting the prosecution of this case which included securing the additional funding of £96,500 to resource a dedicated casework team.

"I would like to thank everyone in the prosecution team, including police and counsel, and also those witnesses - some of them vulnerable women - who came forward to give evidence.

"During the trial it was particularly harrowing for the families of Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls to hear what happened to their loved ones. We hope they can take some comfort from today's verdicts and our thoughts are with them."

  1. Steve Wright was charged on 21 December 2006 with the murders of Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.
  2. Gemma Adams' body was found on 2 December 2006; Tania Nicol on 8 December 2006; Anneli Alderton on 10 December 2006; Paula Clennell on 12 December 2006; Annette Nicholls on 12 December 2006.
  3. For further information contact CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.