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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

Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Find out more about private prosecutions

CPS authorises Merseyside Police to charge Kiel Simpson and Jackie Simpson with offences relating to the death of Ellie Lawrenson


Colin Davies, Head of Merseyside's Organised and Complex Crime Section, today made the following statement in relation to the death of Ellie Lawrenson in St Helens on New Year's Day:

"Working with the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Merseyside, Paul Whittaker, I was briefed on this case at a very early stage and have been working closely with the police throughout.

"We have been working with officers from Merseyside Police on a number of preliminary legal issues both before and after the interviews of Kiel Simpson and Jackie Simpson.

"As this case has developed we have been carefully examining and assessing the evidence in order to come to a charging decision at the earliest possible opportunity.

"Having carefully considered all of the material supplied by Merseyside Police, I made the decision that there was sufficient evidence and authorised that Kiel Simpson should be charged with the possession of a dangerous dog, namely a pit bull terrier, and Jackie Simpson with the manslaughter of Ellie Lawrenson and possession of a controlled drug, diamorphine. We will continue to keep this case under constant review as it develops.

"At this time I would like to remind you of the need to take care in reporting the events surrounding this case. Kiel Simpson and Jackie Simpson both stand accused of these offences and have the right to a fair trial.

"It is extremely important that there should be responsible media reporting which should not prejudice the due process of law."

  1. Details of charges are:

    Jackie Simpson
    1.1.07 - Unlawfully killed Ellie Lawrenson.
    1.1.07 - Unlawfully possessed a quantity of Class A drugs namely diamorphine.

    Kiel Simpson
    1.1.07 - possessed a pit bull type dog. Contrary to Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1971.

  3. The elements which the Prosecution have to establish in court before there can be a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter are as follows;-

    1. A duty of care towards the deceased.
    2. Breach of that duty of care.
    3. Did the breach cause the death of the victim-[causation].
    4. Can the breach be characterised as gross negligence and therefore a crime?
  5. CPS-related enquiries to (national media) CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8079; or (regional and local media) CPS Merseyside Press Office on 0151 239 6465.
  6. Information on the CPS, including our charging guidance, can be found on this website.