R v Dalloway – Case Summary

R v Dalloway

Crown Court

Citations: (1847) 2 Cox 273.


The defendant drove a horse and cart down a road. He was not holding the reins. The victim was a child who ran across the road. The defendant was unable to stop in time. The cart struck the victim and killed them. The evidence indicated that even if the defendant had been holding the reins, he still might not have been able to stop in time. The defendant was charged with gross negligence manslaughter.

  1. Had the defendant caused the child’s death?

The judge directed the jury that if they were not satisfied that the defendant could have avoided the death by holding the reigns, they should acquit him. The jury acquitted him.

This Case is Authority For…

A defendant is not criminally liable for a death which was not caused by a culpable act. In this case, the culpable act was the failure to hold the reigns, but this did not cause the child’s death.