A defendant, who applied and held a tourniquet on the arm of a drug abuser injecting heroin who died as a result, had no answer to charges of administering poison so as to endanger life contrary to s.23 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and of manslaughter.Appeal by the defendant ('R') from a ruling of Morland J that R, having applied and held a tourniquet on the arm of a drug abuser ('T') while he injected himself with heroin, had no defence to a charge under s.23 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 or of manslaugher when death resulted. R and T consumed a large quantity of cider and T then purchased heroin in syringes for both of them. T injected R with one syringe and, according to R, R held a tourniquet round T's arm as T injected himself. T collapsed with cardiac arrest and later died. The judge held that there was no defence to a count of administering poison so as to endanger life contrary to s.23 of the 1861 and to a second count of manslaughter on the basis that application of the tourniquet was part and parcel of the unlawful act of administering heroin. R appealed arguing that there was no unlawful act by him for the purposes of either s.23 or manslaughter and that the judge was wrong to rule that there was no issue of causation to be left to the jury.HELD: (1) The purpose and effect of the tourniquet was to raise a vein in which T could insert the syringe. Accordingly, by applying and holding the tourniquet, R was playing a part in the mechanics of the injection which caused death. It was therefore immaterial whether T was committing a criminal offence in injecting himself (R v Fernando Augusto Megalhaes Dias (2002) 2 Cr App R 96 considered; R v Kennedy (1999) Crim LR 65 doubted). (2) Even where a victim injected himself the supplier of heroin could be guilty of manslaughter where causation was established. A fortiori a person who actively participated in the injection process committed the actus reus and could have no answer to an offence under s.23 or a charge of manslaughter if death resulted. (3) Once R was categorised as such a participant, it being common ground that death resulted from the injection, no question arose in relation to causation. The judge was correct and the appeal against conviction was dismissed. (4) The sentence of three years was not excessive and R's appeal against sentence was dismissed.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 945

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