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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

Susan and Christopher Edwards convicted of murder

20/06/2014

A Nottinghamshire couple have been convicted of murder following the discovery of their parents' bodies under a patio in October last year.

Susan and Christopher Edwards were convicted following a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court for the murder of William and Patricia Wycherley, Susan Edwards' parents.

In May 1998, the defendants visited the Wycherleys at their home in Mansfield, shot them and buried them in the garden in the early hours of the morning. Both were shot with a gun similar to one owned by Christopher Edwards.

In the 15 years that followed, Mr and Mrs Edwards continued to withdraw funds, including benefits, pensions and the proceeds of the sale of their house, from a joint bank account in Mrs Edwards and Mrs Wycherley's names.

Dona Parry-Jones, a Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands, said: "This was a cold, calculated murder, motivated by greed. The two defendants travelled to Mansfield, murdered the elderly couple and took their life savings to relieve their own financial troubles.

"Having killed their parents and buried them in their own back garden, the defendants concocted lies about the couple's deaths to neighbours and relatives to enable them to continue spending their pensions, replying to cards and letters on their behalf and even selling their house. All in all they stole nearly £250,000.

"The tragedy of this case is that Mr and Mrs Wycherley were murdered by those closest to them, dying un-mourned and denied any dignity in death."

The Wycherleys' deaths were uncovered when Christopher Edwards disclosed to a family member that they were dead on the phone from France, where they had fled and run out of money. They were brought back to the UK and charged with murder.

Susan Edwards offered a partial defence of manslaughter on the eve of the trial, on the basis that she had witnessed her mother shooting her father and had shot her after an argument and asked her husband to bury the bodies a week later. However, scientific evidence showed that this story could not have been true and the couple were convicted of murder.

Ends

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 four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct 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 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  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.