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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

Crimes involving young people

Young people as victims and witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support young victims and witnesses and treat them with dignity.

Find out more about how we support young victims and witnesses

Youth crime

The Crown Prosecution Service acts in partnership with other agencies such as the police, the youth justice board, children's services, courts and youth offending teams. Each area of the CPS has a youth justice specialist who oversees the prosecution of youth crime in their area.

Find out more about how we prosecute youth crime

Teenagers sentenced for murder of Sophie Lancaster


As two teenagers started life sentences today for the murder of Sophie Lancaster, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Lancashire, Robert Marshall, described the case as "truly shocking".

Mr Marshall said: "Very occasionally, in spite of all the tragic and distressing cases that the CPS has to deal with, we come across a case that stands out as truly shocking.

"The murder of Sophie Lancaster and the vicious attack on her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, stand out for their utter pointlessness and sheer brutality. Worse still, it seems very likely that the attack started as a form of amusement for those involved.

"There is no doubt that Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert attacked Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby simply because the couple were Goths and dressed differently. We believe this is unacceptable and the prosecution made it clear that Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby were singled out not for anything they said or did but because of their dress.

"During the trial it was particularly harrowing for the families of Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby to hear the description of what happened. The attack was totally unprovoked and Harris and Herbert have shown no remorse whatsoever.

"We can only try to imagine the loss felt by Miss Lancaster's family who have conducted themselves with outstanding dignity and restraint throughout this difficult case. The final words must be our heartfelt sympathy for them."

  1. Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert were both 15 at the time of the murder in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, on 11 August 2007. Harris was senteced to life with a tariff of 18 years and Herbert was sentenced to life with a tariff of 16 years.
  2. Daniel Mallet, Joseph Hulme and Danny Hulme pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent on Mr Maltby. Mallett was jailed for four years and four months and the Hulme brothers to five years and 10 months each.
  3. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution;
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute;
    • Preparing cases for court;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on this website.