Underwhelming Supervening Acts

Published date01 October 2021
Date01 October 2021
Subject MatterCase Notes
Underwhelming Supervening Acts
R v Lanning and Camille [2021] EWCA Crim 450
Joint enterprise, manslaughter, murder, overwhelming supervening act
The appellants, Lanning and Camille, appealed against, respectively, murder and manslaughter convictions
that had resulted from an altercation at an underground station between them and two other young men, V1
and V2. The incident started with an exchange of words between Lanning and V1 and V2 who were standing
on the opposite platform from Lanning. Lanning crossed over to their platform. On his way there he was
joined by Camille. Camille was unarmed, but Lanning proceeded to brandish a sheathed knife towards
V1. The argument evolved into two ghts: one involving Lanning and V1, the other Camille and V2.
Whilst Camille and V2 exchanged punches and kicks, V1 was fatally wounded by Lannings knife.
Lanning admitted that he had unlawfully killed V1 but denied he had intended to kill or cause serious
harm. On his account, he had been wielding the knife in order to scare V1 and the fatal stabbing had
occurred when he was holding V1 in a bear hug and V1 had turned onto the blade during their struggle.
Lanning had previous convictions for unlawful wounding and drug dealing offences to whose admission
he had opened the door by impugning the victimscharacters.
Camille was accused of having encouraged or assisted Lanning to attack V1, intending that V1 would
be killed or caused really serious harm. Alternatively, the case against him was that if he had encouraged
or assisted Lanning to attack V1 but had not intended that V1 would be killed or caused really serious
bodily harm, he was guilty of manslaughter. Camille was convicted of manslaughter.
Lanning appealed against his murder conviction, submitting that the judge had wrongly admitted the
evidence of his previous convictions or had erred in not excluding it under s. 101(3) of the Criminal
Justice Act 2003.
Camille appealed on the basis that the judge had erred in not directing the jury that they could acquit
him of manslaughter if the actions of Lanning in killing V1 amounted to an overwhelming supervening
act (OSA). He submitted that Jogee did not preclude the possibility of the judge leaving OSA to the jury
in all cases in which a knife was used during an escalation of violence during a ght. He further submitted
that a distinction should be drawn between defendants depending, inter alia, on whether they had delib-
erately placed themselves in a position in which reliance on OSA would not arise, for instance by joining
a violent street gang or participating in a venture when it was clear weapons may be used.
Held, dismissingthe appeals, that the judge was correct to rule that the evidence of Lanningsprevious
convictions ought not to have been excluded under s.101(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The judge
had evaluatedthe relevant factors, includingthe nature of the previousconvictions and their age, and hewas
entitled to reachthe conclusion he did. Any potential prejudicialeffect of the admission of the bad character
evidence wasappropriately addressed by the judgesdirections during summing-up.In the circumstances of
this case, the evidence countering thecharacter attack had clear probativevalue in correcting what was said
to be a false impressionand it would have provided the jury with informationrelevant to whether Lannings
assertions against the character of [V1 and V2] were worthy of belief (at [55]).
Case Note
The Journal of Criminal Law
2021, Vol. 85(5) 403405
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00220183211044289

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