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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

Mother and partner convicted following the death of 21-month-old girl


A mother has today been found guilty of child cruelty and the murder of her 21-month-old daughter Ayeeshia, known as AJ. Her partner at the time has been found guilty of allowing the death of a child.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard how on 1 May 2014, Kathryn Smith, aged 23, made a 999 call asking for emergency assistance for AJ who had stopped breathing.

Paramedics arrived at her property in Stretton, Burton-on-Trent to find the mother's 22-year-old partner, Matthew Rigby, attempting resuscitation of AJ.

The toddler was rushed to hospital but the injuries she had sustained were too serious and her life could not be saved.

A post mortem examination revealed that AJ had numerous bruises to her body and severe injuries to her heart which caused her death.

The defendants were subsequently arrested and when questioned by the police they were unable to account for what had happened to the little girl and how she had sustained fatal injuries.

Smith has today been found guilty of murder and child cruelty, and Rigby was found guilty of allowing the death of a child.

Wendy Bounds, Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit, said: "We all recognise the responsibility and duty that rests with parents and those having the care of children to love, protect and nurture them. No child should suffer at the hands of those who should be caring for her; no child should be the victim of broken bones or serious injury caused by violent assault by those caring for her. That is precisely what happened to AJ in the 8 months or so leading up to her death.

"Today, a measure of justice has been obtained for AJ, but sadly this cannot bring her back and our thoughts go out to her family at this time."


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.