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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

Levi Bellfield prosecution was a shocking and exceptional case says CPS


Even for prosecutors and caseworkers used to dealing with murder, the Levi Bellfield trial was an exception in its complexity and distressing detail, according to reviewing lawyer Andrew Hadik of Special Casework CPS London, who began advising the police some 18 months before charge.

Commenting on the verdict he said:

"I am greatly relieved by the convictions today. We had to guide the jury through a huge and complex investigation full of distressing detail. Deciding what evidence to present in court required careful judgement - the tip of the iceberg compared with the whole package disclosed to the defence. The case depended largely on complex circumstantial evidence, which was powerful and compelling but required great care in its presentation.

"The cold-blooded and calculated murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell were part of a series of horrific assaults on young women. Their families have shown great fortitude throughout.

Kate Sheedy, who survived an attack by Levi Bellfield, showed immense courage in giving evidence against him."

The CPS called several experts to explain highly specialised aspects to the jury. CCTV footage was also a crucial part of the case, helping in the identification of Bellfield's Vauxhall Corsa, Toyota Previa and Ford Courier van. This was matched to ownership data and vehicle movements painstakingly researched by the Metropolitan police. "The effective prosecution of this case was assisted enormously by the close and sustained cooperation of everyone involved in the prosecution," said Mr Hadik.

  1. Prosecution counsel were:
    • Mr Brian Altman (2 Bedford Row) Senior Treasury Counsel;
    • Mr Mark Heywood (5 King's Bench Walk) Junior Treasury Counsel;
    • Miss Navaz Daruwalla (2 Bedford Row) Disclosure junior and second junior at trial.
  2. Overall, around 18,000 pages of evidence were used in the Crown's case together with a large quantity of graphic material.
  3. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6088.