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Regina v. Serné

Central Criminal Court
16 Cox Crim. Cas. 311 (1887)


Facts

Leon Serné (defendant) and his wife, two daughters, two sons, and a servant, John Henry Goldfinch (defendant) lived in Serné’s home which had an attached shop. Serné was penniless and decided, along with Goldfinch, to set fire to the premises to collect insurance proceeds. Witnesses saw several fires break out in different areas of the house at the same time soon after Serné and Goldfinch were seen in the shop together. The fires spread quickly, igniting highly flammable material nearby. Serné, his wife, and the daughters escaped to the roof where they were rescued. Goldfinch was rescued from a window. However, the two sons died in the fire. Serné and Goldfinch were indicted for felony murder, found guilty, and they appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stephen, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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