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Regina v. Cunningham

England and Wales High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division
[1957] 2 Q.B. 396

Regina v. Cunningham


Roy Cunningham (defendant) ripped off the gas meter in the cellar of an unoccupied home and stole the money inside. Cunningham did not turn off the gas, which seeped into an adjacent house where an elderly woman named Sarah Wade was sleeping. Wade was partially asphyxiated. Cunningham pleaded guilty to the charge of larceny for stealing the gas meter and the money. In addition, Cunningham was indicted under § 23 of the Offenses against the Person Act, 1861, which provides that it is a felony to “unlawfully and maliciously” give or cause another person to take poison in a manner that endangers his or her life or causes serious injury. The trial judge instructed the jury that the term “malice” in the statute meant “wicked,” and that a person acted maliciously if he did “something which he has no business to do and perfectly well knows it.” Cunningham was convicted, and he appealed to the Queen’s Bench.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Byrne, J.)

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