Murder and the Ruthless Risk-Taker

John Stannard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main focus of this article is the ways in which the problem of reckless murder is dealt with in the common law world. In a case of reckless murder it may not be possible to prove that the accused set out to kill or do serious injury; but the killing is nevertheless thought to merit classification as murder rather than manslaughter. This may be because the case is thought to be analytically indistinguishable from murder, or because the level of culpability demonstrated by the conduct in question is thought to deserve that stigma on other grounds. This article seeks, by reference to various common law systems, to analyse the different techniques used to classify the reckless killer as a murderer, and to compare their advantages and disadvantages in the light of the different rationales used to justify such a classification. The article concludes by arguing that the question whether reckless killers should be classified as murderers—and if so how—can only be decided by reference to broader conceptions of the nature of criminal culpability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-157
Number of pages21
JournalOxford University Commonwealth Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


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