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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

Convicted mother sentenced for murder of her son


A woman has been sentenced to life imprisonment, after pleading guilty to the murder of her baby son at their home in Camber in August 2003.

Lesley Dunford pleaded guilty to killing seven month old Harley at a hearing in March 2016. She is already serving a seven year prison term after being convicted of the manslaughter of her eldest daughter, Lucy, who was two and a half years old when she died in February 2004.

Today (Friday 15 April), she was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years.

Senior Crown Prosecutor in the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit, Libby Clark, said: "Lesley Dunford has lied for many years about what happened to her son, before finally confessing the truth to prison staff in 2014. This was a terrible crime - her confession clearly stated that she deliberately suffocated her son whilst he was face down in his cot.

"Despite being convicted in 2012 of the manslaughter of her eldest daughter, Dunford still kept her silence over Harley's death. She showed no remorse for over a decade by maintaining her claims that she had found him in his cot and that he was not breathing, when the truth was that she had murdered him."



Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk and visit our official News Brief -
  3. 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.
  4. At 31 March 2015 we employed a workforce of approximately 5,895 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2,255 prosecutors and 3,288 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  5. The CPS, together with police representatives (formerly 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.