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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

Lansdown Lane - Men convicted of unlawful killings

22/12/2016

Matthew Gordon and Peter Wood have today been convicted at Bristol Crown Court of the unlawful killings of a four-year-old girl and three adult men.

On 9 February 2015 a tipper lorry, owned by Grittenham Haulage Limited, drove down Lansdown Lane, Bath. The braking system on the lorry had not been properly maintained by the owner, Matthew Gordon, and mechanic, Peter Wood, and it was unsafe to be used on a public road. The lorry was heavily laden, and Lansdown Lane was too narrow and too steep for the lorry. The brakes failed and the vehicle ran out of control, resulting in the deaths of three men and a four-year-old child, and the serious injury of two people.

Alyson Harris, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West said: "This terrible tragedy could have been avoided had the defendants performed their jobs competently. The company did not comply with the Traffic Commissioner's conditions; the vehicle was not properly maintained; and it was driven on a road it should not have been on and at a time when it was not roadworthy.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has been working with the police team on this difficult and complicated case since July 2015, advising on the law and on the direction of the investigation and with prosecution counsel in preparing the case for trial."

Alyson added: "We hope that these verdicts bring some sense of justice to the victims' families and that all road users take note of the importance of safety and of complying with the rules of the road and of the terrible results that can follow if that is not done."

Notes:

Matthew Gordon - convicted of the manslaughter (by gross negligence) of Mitzi Steady, Stephen Vaughan, Philip Allen and Robert Parker. Acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving, and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Peter Wood - convicted of the manslaughter (by gross negligence) of Mitzi Steady, Stephen Vaughan, Philip Allen and Robert Parker.

Phillip Potter (driver of the tipper lorry) - acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving, and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Matthew Gordon and Peter Wood will be sentenced on 27 January 2017 and have been remanded in custody.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief - blog.cps.gov.uk
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