R v Kennedy – 2007

March 26, 2024
Micheal James

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Introduction to R v Kennedy – 2007

In 2007, the case of R v Kennedy captivated legal scholars and practitioners alike, delving into the complex intersection of criminal law and causation. The central question revolved around whether the defendant, Mr. Kennedy, could be held criminally liable for the death of another individual due to his involvement in supplying drugs. This case study aims to analyze the intricacies of R v Kennedy, exploring the legal framework, procedural history, arguments presented, court’s analysis and decision, as well as its broader impact and significance.


The events leading to the legal dispute began when Mr. Kennedy supplied heroin to the deceased, who subsequently injected the drug himself and tragically died shortly afterward. The prosecution argued that Mr. Kennedy’s actions in supplying the heroin directly contributed to the death, thereby warranting criminal liability. However, Mr. Kennedy contended that he merely supplied the drug and did not directly administer it, thus absolving him of responsibility for the death.

Legal Framework

The legal framework in R v Kennedy centered on the principles of causation in criminal law. Specifically, the court had to determine whether Mr. Kennedy’s actions were the factual and legal cause of the deceased’s death. This analysis involved considering both factual causation (whether Mr. Kennedy’s actions were a substantial cause of death) and legal causation (whether his actions were sufficiently connected to the death to warrant criminal liability).

Procedural History

The case underwent various procedural steps, including pre-trial motions, hearings, and appeals. The lower court initially heard the case, where the prosecution argued for Mr. Kennedy’s criminal liability based on the supply of heroin leading to the death. After deliberation, the lower court ruled in favor of the prosecution, finding Mr. Kennedy guilty of manslaughter. However, the case was subsequently appealed, leading to further examination of the legal issues involved.

Issues Presented

The primary legal issue in R v Kennedy revolved around whether the defendant’s actions in supplying heroin could be considered the legal cause of the deceased’s death. Additionally, the court needed to determine the extent of Mr. Kennedy’s culpability, considering factors such as foreseeability and intervening events.

Arguments Presented

The prosecution argued that Mr. Kennedy’s supply of heroin directly contributed to the death of the deceased, emphasizing the causal link between the actions and the outcome. They contended that Mr. Kennedy’s conduct created a foreseeable risk of harm, making him criminally responsible for the consequences.

Conversely, the defense asserted that Mr. Kennedy’s role was limited to supplying the drug and that he could not be held responsible for the individual’s decision to consume it. They argued that intervening factors, such as the deceased’s voluntary decision to inject the heroin, broke the chain of causation, relieving Mr. Kennedy of criminal liability.

Court’s Analysis and Decision

The court meticulously analyzed the facts and legal principles at hand, ultimately reaching a decision that balanced the competing interests of justice and individual responsibility. The court recognized that while Mr. Kennedy’s actions did contribute to the death in a factual sense, legal causation required a more nuanced assessment.

In its ruling, the court distinguished between cases where the defendant administers the fatal act and cases where the defendant supplies the means for the act to occur. It held that while Mr. Kennedy’s conduct was a factual cause of death, it did not meet the threshold for legal causation. The court emphasized the voluntary act of the deceased in injecting the heroin as an intervening factor that severed the causal link between Mr. Kennedy’s actions and the death.

Impact and Significance

The decision in R v Kennedy has significant implications for the legal concept of causation in criminal law. It underscores the importance of distinguishing between factual and legal causation, particularly in cases involving indirect contributions to harm. Moreover, the case highlights the complexities of attributing criminal liability in situations where multiple factors are at play.


In conclusion, R v Kennedy serves as a pivotal case in the realm of criminal law, shaping the understanding of causation and accountability. By exploring the legal framework, procedural history, arguments, court’s analysis, and broader impact, this case study provides valuable insights into the complexities of criminal liability and the judiciary’s role in adjudicating such matters.

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All Answers ltd, 'R v Kennedy – 2007' (Mylawtutor.net, September 2012 ) <https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/r-v-kennedy-2007> accessed 25 April 2024
My, Law, Tutor. (September 2012 ). R v Kennedy – 2007. Retrieved from https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/r-v-kennedy-2007
"R v Kennedy – 2007." MyLawTutor.net. 9 2012. All Answers Ltd. 04 2024 <https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/r-v-kennedy-2007>.
"R v Kennedy – 2007." MyLawTutor. MyLawTutor.net, September 2012. Web. 25 April 2024. <https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/r-v-kennedy-2007>.
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<ref>{{cite web|last=Tutor |first=MyLaw |url=https://www.mylawtutor.net/cases/r-v-kennedy-2007 |title=R v Kennedy – 2007 |publisher=MyLawTutor.net |date=September 2012 |accessdate=25 April 2024 |location=UK, USA}}</ref>

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