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R v Nette, 2001 SCC 78


L robbed. Was tied up. Something around neck obstructing airway. L died. N told undercover cop he was involved, then tried to take statement back. Doctor testified that a number of factors contributed to Ls death


What is the threshold test of causation that must be met before an accused can be legally responsible for causing a victims death in a charge of 2nd degree murder?


1. Did they commit murder – were they a significant contributing cause to death (Smithers).
2. If yes – decide if 1st or 2nd degree murder
3. Then look at whether they were a significant contributing cause or a substantial and integral part of death (Harbottle)
4. If yes to second part then guilty of 1st degree murder (if it was planned and deliberate as well), if not guilty of 2nd degree murder


There is only one standard of causation for homicide offences – Smithers.
2nd degree murder – accused must be contributing cause beyond de minimis range.

Must show that they caused the death both on fact and law
**Factual causation – inquiry about how the victim came to her death – medical, mechanical and physical sense
**Legal causation (imputable causation) – should the accused be held responsible in law for the death that occurred give his level of involvement?

In determining whether and accused is guilty of 1st or 2nd degree murder
**1st step for trier of fact is to determine whether murder has been committed pursuant to ss.229 or 230
**Then the next question is whether the offence should be classified as 1st or 2nd degree murder in accordance with criteria set out in s.231 (considering Harbottle standard)


Harbottle did not raise the standard of causation that applies to all homicide offences.
The conviction of 2nd degree murder stays


**Mechanical connection - Test – But for (necessary)
**Degree of participation
***Significant cause (de minimis) or
***Substantial and integral part
**Remoteness (people acting out of self defence don’t break chain of causation)

For all offences the accused must be a significant contributing cause (de minimis) – except for 1st degree murder it is substantial and integral.
Manslaughter and 2nd degree murder have the same causation – the difference is in the mens rea

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