There is a controversy in the definition of murder in England and Wales. This relates to ‘intention’ in the mental element, which can include the defendant’s foresight of death or grievous bodily harm (GBH) as ‘virtually certain’. This ‘oblique’ intent is criticised as morally under-inclusive. In this article, it is argued the crime can better capture those killings that should be categorised as murder by rejecting oblique intent. It is accepted that GBH ought to be a part of the mental element. However, the article proposes murder should capture heinous forms of risk-taking through knowledge of likely death or GBH which, if it were to occur, might be useful in contributing to the defendant’s purpose. This cognitive approach supports a murderous attitude called reconciliation. That attitude is contrasted with the dictionary definition of intention in which death or GBH can be used in pursuit of, or is, the defendant’s purpose.
- oblique intention
- virtual certainty