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England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> R v Holland  EWHC QB J103 (07 April 1841)
Cite as:  EWHC QB J103, (1841) 174 ER 313, 2 M & Rob 351
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174 ER 313
2 M. & Rob. 351
Indictment for murder. The prisoner was charged with inflicting divers mortal blows and wounds upon one Thomas Garland, and (amongst others) a cut upon one of his fingers.
It appeared by the evidence that the deceased had been waylaid and assaulted by the prisoner, and that, amongst other wounds, he was severely cut across one of his fingers by an iron instrument. On being brought to the infirmary, the surgeon urged him to submit to the amputation of the finger, telling him, unless it were amputated, he considered that his life would be in great hazard. The deceased refused to allow the finger to be amputated. It was thereupon dressed by the surgeon, and the deceased attended at the infirmary from day to day to have his wounds dressed ; at the end of a fortnight, however, lock-jaw came on, induced by the wound on the finger; the finger was then amputated, but too late, and the lockjaw ultimately caused death. The surgeon deposed, that if the finger had been amputated in the first instance, he thought it most probable that the life of the deceased would have been preserved.
For the prisoner, it was contended that the cause of death was not the wound inflicted by the prisoner, but the obstinate refusal of the deceased to submit to proper surgical treatment, by which the fatal result would, according to the evidence, have been prevented.
MAULE J., however, was clearly of opinion that this was no defence, and told the jury that if the prisoner wilfully, and without any justifiable cause, inflicted the wound on the party, which wound was ultimately the cause of death, the prisoner was guilty of murder ; that for this purpose it made no difference whether the wound was in its own nature instantly mortal, or whether it became the cause of death by reason of the deceased not having adopted the best mode of treatment ; the real question is, whether in the end the wound inflicted by the prisoner was the cause of death ?Guilty.