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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

Lewis Daynes sentenced for murder of Breck Bednar


Teenager Lewis Daynes was sentenced to life imprisonment today for the murder of Breck Bednar, 14, in a case described by CPS East of England Chief Crown Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins as "shocking", given the young ages of those involved.

Ms Hopkins said: "Our case was that Lewis Daynes, even though he was only 18 when he committed Breck's murder, was a controlling and manipulative individual who carefully planned this crime.

"He groomed Breck online using their shared interest in computer games and over a period of months he manipulated Breck, turning him against his family.

"A month before the tragic event of Breck's death, Daynes was clearly organising and planning, buying duct tape and other items online. He gave Breck a mobile phone and also sent instructions by text on the lies Breck should tell his family so he would be able to visit Daynes' home in Grays, Essex.

"We have seen cases where young people have been groomed online but it is rare for it to culminate in such a dreadful and violent murder.

"The degree of planning and manipulation by Daynes is shocking and when you consider the young ages of perpetrator and victim, it stands out as one of the most cruel, violent and unusual cases we have dealt with."

Daynes had originally pleaded not guilty to the murder of Breck Bednar on 17 February 2014 but changed his plea to guilty at the start of his trial on 25 November 2014.

At the sentencing hearing in Chelmsford Crown Court on 12 January 2015, prosecuting counsel Richard Whittam, QC, told the court that the Crowns case was that this was a sexually or sadistically motivated murder. This was disputed by the defence and after hearing from expert witnesses, judge Mrs Justice Cox ruled that she accepted the Crown's argument.

Taking this into account, the judge sentenced Daynes to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 25 years.

Ms Hopkins said: "I hope the life sentence passed today sends out a clear message that the CPS will prosecute robustly those who prey on young victims online. I also hope that the sentence brings some small comfort to the family and friends of Breck who have suffered a terrible loss in truly appalling circumstances. Our thoughts are with them."


Notes to Editors

  1. At the start of the sentencing hearing, prosecuting counsel Mr Whittam told the judge that CPS East of England had decided not to prosecute Lewis Daynes in relation to a separate rape case and were offering no evidence against him on four charges in that matter.
  2. The charges in that case are: rape, attempted rape and two charges of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent between 1 April 2011 and 10 July 2011.
  3. The prosecution also offered no evidence on a charge against Daynes of making an indecent photograph of a child on 30 August 2011.
  4. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  5. 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.
  6. 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:
  7. 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.