R v Blaue (Robert Konrad)
Court of Appeal
Citations:  1 WLR 1411;  3 All ER 446; (1975) 61 Cr App R 271;  Crim LR 648; (1975) 119 SJ 589;  CLY 614.
The defendant stabbed the victim with a knife. She was taken to hospital where she was told that surgery would save her life, but that she would have to consent to a blood transfusion. The victim refused, because she was a Jehovah’s Witness. The strictures of that religion prohibit blood transfusions. She died of internal bleeding as a result of her stab wound.
The defendant was charged with murder. He argued that he had not caused the victim’s death in law. He claimed that the victim’s decision to refuse medical treatment which would have saved her life broke the chain of causation. The trial judge directed the jury that they should likely find that the defendant’s stabbing was an operative and substantial cause of death. The jury convicted the defendant of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. The defendant appealed his conviction.
- Does a victim’s decision to refuse medical treatment for religious reasons break the chain of causation?
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The victim’s decision to refuse medical treatment did not break causation on these facts.
This Case is Authority For…
A victim is not required to mitigate their injuries or losses for the purposes of criminal law.
A victim’s actions break the chain of causation if they are unreasonable or disproportionate in the circumstances. A decision to refuse medical treatment as a result of religious beliefs is not ‘unreasonable’ for these purposes. It is not appropriate to assess the reasonableness of religious beliefs in this context.