R v Holland – Case Summary

R v Holland

High Court

Citations: (1841) 2 Moody and Robinson 351; 174 ER 313.


The defendant stabbed the victim multiple times. One of the wounds inflicted was a cut across the finger. The doctor treating the victim told him that the finger needed amputating. The doctor said that if the victim refused the amputation, he would probably die. The victim refused to consent to the amputation. The infection from the wound killed him two weeks later.

The defendant was charged with murder. He argued that he was not the legal cause of the victim’s death. The victim’s obstinate refusal to accept treatment broke the chain of causation.

  1. Did the victim’s refusal to accept medical treatment break the chain of causation?

The trial judge directed the jury that the victim’s refusal of medical treatment did not break the chain of causation. The jury convicted the defendant of murder.

This Case is Authority For…

The defendant’s actions will still be the legal cause of death if the victim refuses medical treatment for wounds caused by those actions.


This is an example of the rule that the defendant must ‘take the victim as he finds them’.