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Recent developments in Criminal Law

  • In March 2005, the House of Lords decided, in the case of R v Benthem, that a person’s fingers could not amount to an imitation firearm, whatever their appearance. The Lords held that the Defendant’s fingers were a part of him and were not in his possession.
  • In the recent case of R v Konzani, it was held that a person knowingly suffering from a sexually transmittable disease is guilty of GBH if there was no informed consent and if the disease is transmitted. In Konzani, the Defendant was a man who knew that he was HIV positive but who did not use a condom. In the case of R v Dica (September 2005), the Court of Appeal held that a sentence of four and a half years in prison for inflicting GBH in such a manner was not excessive.
  • In the case of R (Traves) v DPP, it was held that a Defendant (who was disqualified from driving at the time) was “driving” in his car even though all he was doing was using the brakes to slow it down whilst it was being towed by another car. The fact that the Defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat was enough to constitute “driving”.
  • Current Road Traffic laws mean that anyone convicted of causing death by dangerous driving can receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years. However, if a Defendant was not driving dangerously, but only carelessly, the maximum penalty, even in the event of a death, is a fine of up to £2,500. However, Government proposals look set to close that loophole. In a string of new driving offences announced by the Government, drivers who cause death by careless driving could receive a prison sentence of up to 5 years. It is also proposed that a new offence of causing death when driving whilst unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured will be created.

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