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Citation: Wilson (1992) 174 CLR 313.

This information can be found in the Textbook: Brown et al, Criminal Laws: Materials and Commentary on Criminal Law and Process in New South Wales, (5th edition, Federation Press, 2011), pp. 454-8.


Background facts

  • The Defendant [Wilson] hit the victim, causing him to fall and hit his head. The victim died from brain damage.

Legal issues


  • The court considered several past authorities to determine the test for manslaughter by an unlawful act.
  • It rejected the the English approach (Newbury test) by which there is no intention requirement and there only needs to be an appreciable risk of 'some harm'.
  • Rather, it approved the Australian decision in Holzter but modified version. This means:
    • Act must be intentional and
    • 'circumstances must be such that a reasonable man in the accused’s position...would have realised that he was exposing another or others to an appreciable risk of serious injury' (objective test).
      • 'Appreciable risk' means a risk that is real or significant, rather than remote or fanciful.
      • 'Serious injury' means an injury that is more than trivial or negligible
  • The court also concluded that 'battery manslaughter' is not a separate category of manslaughter and doesn't exist.


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