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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Man jailed for life for murder of a two-year-old boy in his care


A man who killed his partner's two-year-son while in his care has been jailed for life after being found guilty of murder.

Craig Smith, 28, of Merseyside, was convicted of Teddy Tilston's murder following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court today (2 November).

The incident happened in March this year.

His trial heard that Smith, who had been looking after Teddy, claimed to an ambulance crew that he had drowned in the bath. When they arrived, paramedics found him dead but his clothes and hair were dry.

The child's mother, Ashleigh Willett, 25, was also found guilty of child cruelty. She will be sentenced at a later date.

Smith was given a life sentence and told he must serve a minimum of 17 years before he can be considered for release.

A full post-mortem examination was later carried out on Teddy's body and additional tests carried out by a Home Office pathologist and other experts.

The cause of death was revealed as a fatal punch or kick to the child's stomach. There was evidence that the child had an earlier injury in the same part of his body.

While paramedics were dealing with the death of Teddy, his mother was at Arrowe Park Hospital with Teddy's twin sister. She had suffered a head injury that day, also while in the sole care of Smith.

But doctors were not satisfied with her explanation that the blow had been caused by the child accidentally hitting a table. They also found other injuries, many that had been inflicted some time before.

Willett and Smith were subsequently charged with offences relating to the two children.

Richard Riley, for the CPS, said: "This has been a difficult and tragic case involving the use of violence against two very small children, leading to the death of one of them.

"After Teddy Tilston's death, one of the paediatricians examined his body and found a catalogue of injuries which, in her view, were not reasonably explained by accidental causes.

"The same paediatrician also examined Teddy's sister - she too had many injuries which were not explicable by accidental causes - not least a broken wrist which she had suffered sometime between several weeks earlier and three to six months earlier.

"Neither Craig Smith or Ashleigh Willett could give a satisfactory account for the catalogue of injuries suffered by the twins.

"The CPS said that, even if we assume that all the injuries were caused by Smith, then such is the number of injuries to both children that Ashleigh Willett must have known that the children were being ill-treated."


Notes to Editors

  1. Craig Smith (dob 13/11/88) was convicted of murder, actual bodily harm and two counts of child cruelty
  2. Ashley Willett (dob 19/06/92) was convicted of two counts of child cruelty
  3. Richard Riley is Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire
  4. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief -
  5. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906. Out of Hours - 07590 617233