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Why the Salisbury nerve agent attack became a murder investigation?

By Boyce & Co., Jul 9 2018 03:49PM

This is a question a lot of people are asking today following the sad news of the tragic death of Dawn Sturgess and a decision to launch a murder enquiry.

At this stage it is an investigation not a trial so it is entirely proper to keep all lines of enquiry open, including a possibility that there is a direct link to the latest victims.

Murder requires a specific intent – to kill or to cause really serious harm. The intent, however, does not need to be directed at a particular individual. There is a concept known as ‘transferred malice’. If I shoot at X intending to kill X (or cause him really serious harm) but Y gets in the way and I shoot Y and kill Y then that would still be murder.

If, as is speculated, the unfortunate Dawn Sturgess stumbled across a discarded item which had sufficient traces of Novichok to kill her then the requisite intent would be lacking. A case for manslaughter may well be made out and there would be offences in relation to possession of the original items.

Whichever way you look at it there will be very long sentences dished out if there is a conviction.

Ed Boyce

09 July 2018

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