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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

Crimes involving young people

Young people as victims and witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support young victims and witnesses and treat them with dignity.

Find out more about how we support young victims and witnesses

Youth crime

The Crown Prosecution Service acts in partnership with other agencies such as the police, the youth justice board, children's services, courts and youth offending teams. Each area of the CPS has a youth justice specialist who oversees the prosecution of youth crime in their area.

Find out more about how we prosecute youth crime

Teenager guilty of murder of Rhys Jones

16/12/2008

The shooting of an 11 year old boy on his way home from football practice was a crime which shocked not only Liverpool but the whole country, said Merseyside Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer Helen Morris.

Young Rhys Jones was still in his football strip when on 22 August 2007 he was shot by Sean Mercer, then 16, who was today found guilty of his murder. Six other people have also been found guilty of charges in connection with the shooting.

Mrs Morris said: "Rhys Jones was an innocent victim of a long running feud between two local gangs. His death shocked and saddened everyone who heard about it.

"Particularly disturbing is the youth of some of the defendants. Sean Mercer, who is now 18, was just 16 when he fired that gun. Some of the defendants who helped dispose of the gun, his clothing and his bicycle, were just 15 and 16.

"But this case is not just about teenage gang members who are young and trigger happy. Two of the young men who helped Sean Mercer on that night, Melvin Coy and Gary Kays, were 24 years of age. They have all contributed to the unimaginable suffering endured by Rhys' family."

Mrs Morris said that although Rhys was not the intended victim, Sean Mercer fired the shot which killed him and so was guilty of his murder.

The shooting was caught on CCTV. The jury was shown this CCTV footage and there was a wealth of other evidence as well, such as data from mobile phones, the recovery of the gun, and covert recordings of conversations about the murder involving some of the defendants and their families.

She said: "We also had the evidence of the man who had found Sean Mercer's bike abandoned within hours of the shooting. Detailed investigations by Merseyside police traced the history of this bike from its source to its delivery to Sean Mercer. DNA was recovered from the bike, revealing a possible link to Sean Mercer.

"We would like to thank all the witnesses who gave evidence during the trial and reassure the people of Merseyside that they can feel confident that crimes such as this will be prosecuted and that measures can be put in place to ensure that witnesses who come forward can be protected and helped to feel secure and comfortable when giving evidence.

"The parents of Rhys Jones have waited more than 15 months for this moment and have shown enormous patience and trust in the criminal justice system throughout. They have sat through the evidence and displayed great dignity and fortitude. We hope they take some comfort from today's verdicts. Our thoughts are with them."

Ends

  1. Rhys Jones was killed on 22 August 2007 in the car park of the Fir Tree Pub, Croxteth Park.
  2. Melvin Coy, Gary Kays, Nathan Quinn, James Yates, Dean Kelly and another youth were found guilty of assisting an offender. Dean Kelly was also found guilty of two charges of possessing a prohibited firearm and possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate.
  3. For further information, contact Julie Seddon, CPS Press Office, 020 7796 8180. Local media should contact Karen O'Brien on 0151 239 6465.
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  5. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk
  6. The CPS, together with 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. The Protocol is published on our website at: