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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

Zakaria Bulhan pleads guilty in Russell Square stabbing case


A teenager has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in respect of the killing of an American woman in Russell Square during a series of random stabbings on August 3 last year.

Zakaria Bulhan, 19 (d.o.b. 12/7/1997), who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, admitted the manslaughter of Darlene Horton on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and the wounding of five others with intent to do them grievous bodily harm, when he appeared at the Old Bailey today (Feb 6).

He had been due to stand trial on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Malcolm McHaffie, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said: "Zakaria Bulhan stabbed Darlene Horton to death and wounded five others in quick succession in Russell Square last August in a horrific series of random stabbings.

"We have considered expert evidence from both prosecution and defence psychiatrists who have concluded that Bulhan was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and experiencing a psychotic episode at the time.

"For that reason we have agreed to accept Bulhan's guilty plea to manslaughter based on his diminished responsibility and to five counts of section 18 wounding with intent.

"This prosecution will do nothing to reverse the tragic events in Russell Square but we hope these pleas offer some solace to those involved who will also be spared the ordeal of reliving what happened by giving evidence at a trial."

Zakaria Bulhan will be sentenced on Tuesday 7 February.


Notes to Editors

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