Criminal Law Case Study

1322 Words6 Pages
In this case the accused, Mr Cheatham stabbed his wife, three old year

old daughter and three month old daughter numerous times. His wife and

older daughter died from their wounds but skilled surgery managed to

save the life of his three-month-old daughter.

The prosecution would want to try the accused for two counts of murder

(of his wife and older child) and one count of attempted murder (the

younger child). However, the accused may be able to argue the defence

of insanity, or in the alternative, diminished responsibility, which

would result in either acquittal or a murder conviction being reduced

to manslaughter.

Firstly what the prosecution must prove to gain a conviction on the

charges will be discussed. Secondly what the defence must prove in

order to escape conviction will be discussed. Last of all the two

different cases will be assessed and which case appears to be the

stronger side will be suggested.

The relevant jurisdiction has been assumed to be the Australian

Capital Territory, and all referred legislation references in this

paper are Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) unless otherwise specified.





In order for the accused to be convicted of murder of his wife and

3-year-old child, the prosecution will need to prove:

(a)That the accused did an act which caused the death of the two

victims; and

(b)The accused did so with:

i. an intention to cause their deaths, or

ii. with a reckless indifference to the probability of death.

(Section 12)

In regards to the first element, the prosecution must show the accused

caused the victim’s death. This is relatively straightforward in the

circumstances because it can be said that the victims’ deaths are the

‘natural consequence’[1] of him stabbing them.

The prosecution must also prove the accused intended their deaths,

that is, that the accused intended death to ensue from his conduct. (Per

Brenann J in He Kaw The v The Queen (1985) 157 CLR 523 at 569, 570)

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