R v Larkin – Case Summary

R v Larkin

Court of Appeal

Citations: (1942) 29 Cr App R 18.


The defendant waved a razor around in an attempt to frighten his mistress’ lover. His mistress, who was drunk, accidentally fell upon the razor. She died of the injuries this inflicted. The defendant was convicted of unlawful act manslaughter. He appealed his conviction, arguing that while he did commit the unlawful act of assault, it was not directed at his mistress and so could not be relied on to form the basis of unlawful act manslaughter.

  1. For the purposes of unlawful act manslaughter, does the unlawful act need to be directed at the deceased?

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. There is no need to show that the unlawful act was directed at the deceased.

This Case is Authority For…

For the purposes of unlawful act manslaughter, it is not necessary to show that the defendant directed the unlawful and dangerous act at the deceased. As Humphreys J put it:

‘Where the act which a person is engaged in performing is unlawful, then if at the same time it is a dangerous act, that is, an act which is likely to injure another person, and quite inadvertently the doer of the act causes the death of that other person by that act, then he is guilty of manslaughter.’