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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 two murders in Colchester


A teenager who was only 15 when he stabbed two strangers to death in Colchester in 2014 has been convicted today at Guildford Crown Court of their murder. James Fairweather had previously admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Paul Scothern, head of CPS East of England's Complex Casework Unit said: "This was a shocking case, particularly because of the young age of the defendant at the time and because the brutal attacks he carried out were entirely random.

"He did not know either James Attfield or Nahid Almanea, the victims did not know each other and the defendant had absolutely no reason to attack them."

Mr Attfield was found about 6am on 29 March 2014 in a park in Colchester; he had received more than 100 stab wounds during a savage assault and died shortly after being found.

In Ms Almanea's case the attack was in broad daylight in June 2014 about 10.30am near the University of Essex where she was a student.

Mr Scothern said: "James Fairweather claimed voices and hallucinations compelled him to carry out attacks and he admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denied murder. His claims were at the heart of the trial as the prosecution did not accept this was the case.

"We presented expert medical evidence to the jury that his claims were an attempt to deceive those who examined him, to literally get away with murder.

"Our evidence was that he was in control at the time, he knew what he was doing, he prepared for the killings by arming himself with a knife and gloves, and he took steps afterwards to conceal what he had done.

"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims 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.