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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

Andrew Stocker found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following death of employees on an apple farm

19/06/2015

Andrew Stocker has been found guilty by a jury of gross negligence manslaughter at Winchester Crown Court.

Piers Arnold, specialist prosecutor at the CPS said: "This is a tragic case involving two young men, workers on an apple farm in Hampshire, who died of asphyxiation after being sent into an apple storage tank with very low levels of oxygen in order to gather apples for a fruit competition.

"No breathing apparatus was provided to the men, who were expected to hold their breath in the hope that they would not succumb to oxygen deprivation. Mr Stocker was in charge of the pack house where the two men worked and was responsible for encouraging this method of collecting apples. He has today been found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter for the part he played in their deaths."

Extracts from the prosecution opening:

"The Defendant undoubtedly was well aware of the dangers presented by these units when used with a controlled atmosphere. However, perhaps through over confidence or a blasé approach to risk for himself, he had allowed and, by his own conduct, encouraged a bad practice to develop and/or continue over the years by which on occasions workers would enter these units without breathing equipment and in breach of his employer's safety policy. The practice had even acquired a somewhat boastful tag amongst one or two workers: "scuba diving".

"One such occasion when "scuba diving" would be used was in respect of the gathering of samples for an annual national fruit show held down in Kent every February/March."

"The Defendant knew full well that the prohibited form of entry would have to be employed in order to gather the appropriate samples yet, notwithstanding his knowledge of the high risk of serious harm/death and notwithstanding the duty of care owed by him to those who worked under his supervision and control, he allowed the risk to be taken."

"On Monday 18th February 2013 Scott Cain set about his task during the morning. It would appear that he was intending to make his selection from three separate units and to do so over two sessions... He did so by holding his breath and entering the unit itself. He would take a deep breath then duck down into the unit taking with him an empty net into which he would place about 10 apples selected from various stored boxes. He would then re-appear at the hatch, pass the net out to his assistant for him to empty the fruit into a cardboard box before repeating the same process.

"Ashley Clarke duly agreed to help out and he was last seen heading off to what turned out to be unit 3 at around 1pm. As Ashley had never been involved with the storage units, it is perhaps safe to assume that Scott employed the same process as before, namely he entered the unit itself leaving Ashley to stand on the roof of the unit ready to receive the gathered apples;

"It would appear that no-one noticed the prolonged absence of Scott and Ashley until shortly before 3pm. A search of the unit area resulted in the grim discovery of both men lying motionless across the top layer of apple boxes inside unit 3. Despite the efforts of members of staff and the emergency services neither young man could be revived and both men were finally pronounced dead at the scene."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.