Regina v Finlay: CACD 8 Dec 2003

The defendant appealed from his conviction for manslaughter. He had been found to have prepared heroin by loading it into a syringe and passing it to a friend.
Held: Even if ‘the appellant had not himself wielded the syringe, he would have committed an offence under s.23 if he had caused the administration of the heroin even though he did not himself physically administer it.’ ‘Effectively, the only matter in issue was whether it was open to the judge to leave to the jury the possibility that there was a version of events that caused Mr Finlay to be guilty of an offence under Section 23 of the 1861 Act even though he had not himself held the syringe.’ and ‘The test is one of causation. In this case, could it be said that the act of the deceased in taking up the syringe and using it on herself, which are to be assumed to be the facts, prevented Mr Finlay’s previous acts being causative of the injection. ‘ Defence counsel sought to ‘make the existence of what used to be called a novus actus interveniens, and can now more simply be regarded as an act of another person, as something that as a matter of law [emphasis added] breaks the chain of causation. It was that view or assumption that was rejected by the House of Lords in the Empress Car case. Intervening acts are only a factor to be taken into account by the jury in looking at all the circumstances.’

Buxton LJ
[2003] EWCA Crim 3868
Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 823
England and Wales
AppliedEmpress Car Company (Abertillery) Ltd v National Rivers Authority HL 22-Jan-1998
A diesel tank was in a yard which drained into a river. It was surrounded by a bund to contain spillage, but that protection was over ridden by an extension pipe from the tank to a drum outside the bund. Someone opened a tap on that pipe so that . .

Cited by:
CitedKennedy v Regina CACD 17-Mar-2005
The court considered when it was appropriate to find someone guilty of manslaughter where that person has been involved in the supply of a Class A controlled drug, which is then self administered by the person to whom it is supplied, and the . .
CitedRegina v Kennedy HL 17-Oct-2007
The defendant had been convicted of manslaughter. He had supplied a class A drug to a friend who then died taking it. The House was asked ‘When is it appropriate to find someone guilty of manslaughter where that person has been involved in the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.225877