Advanced Search

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

Colin Ash-Smith guilty of Claire Tiltman's murder


Jaswant Narwal, CPS South East Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: "Today we have been able to bring Claire Tiltman's killer to justice, ending 21 years of uncertainty for all those who cared for her. Claire's murder shocked the whole community and her death has never been forgotten.

Colin Ash-Smith is a ruthless and dangerous man with a history of committing violent offences against women. He believed that he could evade justice for more than 20 years, but he was wrong. For all these years he thought he could hide behind the lack of forensic, identification or other direct evidence linking him to the murder. However, a number of seemingly small coincidences on that January evening which, when carefully considered, examined and put together, made for a compelling case which pointed only to Ash-Smith as Claire's killer.

"Central to our case was Ash-Smith's 'arc of offending', where his attacks increased in ferocity and severity over the years. The remarkable similarity of Claire's murder to other crimes committed by Ash-Smith in the Greenhithe area, along with his pattern of setting up false alibis on four separate occasions to divert attention away from himself were two of the most important features that supported the circumstantial case against him and helped to prove his guilt.

"It is tragic that neither of Claire's parents, Cliff or Lin, are alive to witness justice being done, but I hope that today's verdict does bring some closure for Claire's remaining family and her friends, who - as the Justice For Claire campaign - have campaigned tirelessly to ensure that the case remained in the public eye for all these years.

"This has been one of the most complex cases that the CPS has dealt with in the South East in recent years. This has been a real team effort with Kent Police, investigators and prosecutors working closely together on this case over the last three years to ensure that we could bring this case to court and achieve justice for Claire".


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. 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.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  4. 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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.