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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

Jacqueline Simpson found not guilty of manslaughter


Colin Davies, Assistant District Crown Prosecutor for Merseyside, said: "The death of Ellie Lawrenson on New Year's Day, when she was mauled to death by her family's pit-bull type dog, Reuben, was a tragedy for all involved and in particular for Ellie's parents.

"The CPS brought this prosecution on the basis that Jacqueline Simpson owed a duty of care towards her granddaughter Ellie. We said that she breached that duty of care by letting the dog into her house, knowing that it was potentially dangerous and capable of killing a child. Furthermore, we said that her breach of that duty of care was such that a jury would consider it to be so gross that it amounted to a crime.

"There is no doubt - and it was accepted by the defence - that Jacqueline Simpson owed a duty of care towards her granddaughter.

"However, the jury by its verdict have accepted that, if there was a breach of her duty of care it was not such that it amounted to a crime.

"This prosecution cannot, of course, bring Ellie back, but when anyone is killed following an attack by a dog and where there is evidence of a criminal offence, the police will investigate and the CPS will prosecute.

"Once again, all those involved in the Prosecution Team wish to express their sincere condolences to the parents of Ellie Lawrenson."

For further enquiries or interview requests please contact:
Local/regional media: Merseyside CPS Press Office on 0151 239 6465, or
National media: CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8127.