R v Mitchell [1983] QB 741

Key point

  • This case exemplifies the principle of transferred malice: D’s intention to injure A can be transferred so that D can be liable if he accidentally injures B instead


  • D and another man S became involved in a scuffle in a Post Office
  • D pushed S, who fell onto an elderly lady, causing the lady injuries from which she later died


  • Whether the person at whom the act is aimed must also be the person whose death is caused for manslaughter to be made out

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • D was guilty of manslaughter

Staughton J

  • ‘We can see no reason of policy for holding that an act calculated to harm A cannot be manslaughter if it in fact kills B. The criminality of the doer of the act is precisely the same whether it is A or B who dies. A person who throws a stone at A is just as guilty if, instead of hitting and killing A, it hits and kills B.’
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