R v Kennedy [2007]

R v Kennedy [2007] UKHL 38 is a significant House of Lords case on manslaughter in English criminal law, establishing a legal principle that a person who supplies a controlled drug to a fully informed and responsible adult, resulting in the individual's death due to voluntary administration of the drug, cannot be guilty of manslaughter.

Simon Kennedy supplied heroin to Marco Bosque, who voluntarily administered the drug and subsequently died. Kennedy was initially convicted of manslaughter and supplying a Class A drug. However, the House of Lords overturned the conviction, emphasising the distinction between the act of supplying drugs and the subsequent voluntary administration by the recipient.

The Lords clarified that unlawful act manslaughter required the defendant's commission of a crime, significant causation of the deceased's death, and a dangerous act or significant harm. While Kennedy had committed the crime of supplying drugs, the act itself could not be the foundation for unlawful act manslaughter unless it directly caused harm, which, in this context, depended on Bosque's subsequent use of the drugs.

The Crown Prosecution Service argued that Kennedy could be charged with maliciously administering poison under Section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. However, the Lords rejected this argument, stating that an informed and voluntary choice, such as Bosque injecting himself, constituted a novus actus interveniens, breaking the chain of causation. Kennedy's actions did not cause Bosque to administer the drug, and therefore, Kennedy was not criminally liable for manslaughter. The Lords also highlighted that Bosque's act of injecting himself was not a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and Kennedy's supply of the drug did not amount to accomplice liability.

In conclusion, the House of Lords quashed Kennedy's conviction for manslaughter, emphasising the legal principle that the supplier is not criminally responsible when a fully informed and responsible adult voluntarily administers a controlled drug, leading to their death.
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