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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

Teenager convicted of the manslaughter of PC Dave Phillips

21/03/2016

A teenager, Clayton Williams, who killed a Merseyside police officer as he was escaping from the police following a burglary in a stolen car has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, Helen Graves, said: "Williams drove a stolen vehicle at dangerously high speeds through residential areas and then collided with a police officer who was simply doing his duty.

"His actions on that night have devastated the family of PC Phillips and robbed the police force of an upstanding and valuable member of the team.

"Williams has been found guilty of an extremely serious offence and he is now facing the prospect of jail.

"This has been a complex and difficult case and the Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank Merseyside Police for their help in bringing this case to court.

"The family of PC Phillips have behaved with tremendous dignity and courage throughout this trial, despite having to face the details of the last moments of their beloved husband, father, son and brother. Our thoughts remain with them at this very difficult time."

Additional information:

Manchester Crown Court heard that Clayton Williams killed PC Dave Phillips after he drove into him with a Mitsubishi pick-up truck in Wallasey on 5 October 2015.

Williams, 19, of Wheatland Lane, Wallasey, had earlier broken into Oxton Estates estate agents with another man, Philip Stuart, 30, of Mayfair Court, Prenton.

They stole, amongst other things, the keys to the 4 x 4 vehicle which Williams then drove at high speeds for several miles across the Wirral with Stuart as a front seat passenger.

The court heard that Williams careered through red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road and down the wrong way of a one-way street. He was being pursued by two police cars as he approached Wallasey Dock Road where PC Dave Phillips, 34, placed a "stop stick" in the road.

If the defendant had driven over the device, the stop stick would have punctured the tyres and slowed the vehicle down. But, instead of driving over it, the defendant turned the truck and drove off the carriageway in the direction of PC Phillips.

The officer was struck by the front of the vehicle and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Williams then drove away and began contacting others who then helped him to cover up his involvement in the tragedy.

Williams pleaded guilty to burglary, stealing the truck and driving it dangerously and admitted that he had been driving the truck when it collided with PC Phillips, causing his death.

The prosecution had argued that Williams was guilty of murder but the jury rejected that and found him guilty of manslaughter, by a majority of 10 to 2.

Phillip Stuart, 30, of Mayfair Court, Oxton, who was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the incident, has also appeared before the court for sentence.

Stuart had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to burglary and aggravated taking of a vehicle and was given a six year jail term - three and a half years for aggravated vehicle taking and two and a half years for the burglary. He has also been disqualified from driving for three years.

Three other people were also sentenced in connection with the case. They had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to assist an offender. They admitted burning and attempting to dispose of Clayton Williams' clothing at a house in Wheatland Lane in Wallasey in the hours after the incident.

Georgia Clarke, 19, of Knowsley Road, Wallasey, was sentenced to 12 months' detention, Michael Smith, 19, of Widmore Road, Gateacre was sentenced to two years' detention and Dawn Cooper, 34, of Wheatland Lane, Wallasey to two years' imprisonment.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
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  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: www.cps.gov.uk.
  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.