R v Pittwood [1902] TLR 37

Key point

  • A contract can create a duty to act in criminal law


  • D was employed by a railway company to operate a level crossing
  • He lifted the gate to allow a cart to pass across but failed to put it back when he went on his lunch break
  • In his absence, a second horse and cart crossed the railway and the driver was killed

Held (High Court)

  • D was convicted of manslaughter
  • D had been under a contractual duty to close the gate, therefore omission to perform the obligation could constitute actus reus for murder
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