Houghton vs The Queen

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Australia like any other country has laws that govern the conduct and behavior of its citizens. The constitution has various sections that the law enforcement officers can use to keep order in the country. The most cited section of the Australian law is section 266. Many of the laws refer to unlawful acts upon the occurrence of a case. However, section 266 of the Australian law deals with criminal issues that affect the people in the nation. For example, the section spells out unlawful acts that directly award liability to the offender and not the offended. The section refers to a person being in possession of an object and then takes part in causing bodily harm to another. For example, if person A was in possession of a sharp object, then person B comes and knocks person A and the sharp object stubs and kills person C, then A can be charged with manslaughter because he was in possession of and had management and control over the sharp object.

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In this case, the object caused bodily harm to a person and caused death. Section 266 requires that in the event that a person aids in such wrongdoing, he or she should be charged with the necessary offense. According to this section, the person had control over the device or object that caused harm to another person. In that sense, the owner of the object is directly responsible for the object. Other factors consider in section 266 include being in possession of other things that may cause harm such as guns, and other similar objects. Some of the things that fall under section 266 also include dangerous objects that can cause bodily harm and even death to human being such as knives, guns, pistols, and clubs among others (Queensland, 2010).

Many courts in Australia and New Zealand have applied section 266 in solving different criminal cases. Mostly, the two nations have used this section to solve issues that have to deal with negligence in causing bodily harm to other parties. One of the case codes that used this section to pass a guilty verdict on the accused is the case of R v Mwai [1995] 3 NZLR 149. In this case, the jury found the applicant guilty of infecting sexual partners which HIV (Supreme Cout Of Victori, 1995). On all the accounts that he was found guilty of, the applicant not only failed to inform his sexual partners of his HIV status but also used object such as rings and golf balls to cause bodily harms to the plaintiffs. The use of these objects is a criminal act as provided in section 266 of the criminal cord of the country. The applicant was aware that by using a sharp ring and a golf ball on the anus of his sexual partners, he would cause lacerations which are examples of bodily harms to the sexual partners. In so doing, he made his sexual partners susceptible to acquiring the HIV through the exchange of body fluids. In this case, the law found that the use of the objects to cause bodily harms and hence transmit the disease to the sexual partners was criminal and punishable.

Similarly, in R v Reid [08 2009], the jury found that the appellant was guilty of causing bodily harm to his sexual partners by recklessly transmitting the virus to them while they engaged in unprotected sex with the applicant. According to this case, the jury applied section 23(1) of Queensland and Western Australia that states that a person should be responsible for managing any substance moving or stationery, animate or inanimate to ensure the protection and prevention of causing bodily harm to other people around him or her (Chesterman, Kean, & McPherson, 2006). The court held that the applicant was guilty of infecting two HIV-negative women with the virus after he failed to play his duty of preventing such bodily harms to the plaintiffs. According to the law, using intent to cause bodily harm by infecting other people with a disease is criminal and punishable. In this case, the applicant intentionally infected the women in question with the HIV by transmitting it with the main aim of infecting them. His intent was clear, and he was guilty as per section 266 of the law. The jury was able to establish that the applicant had full control of spreading or not spreading the virus to his sexual partners. They also found out that the applicant had the responsibility to ensure that he does not harm other peoples health by willfully transmitting the virus to them. Section266 enabled the judges to pass an adequate judgment on the applicant that also served as a warning to the rest of the population who aim to hurt other willingly.

Similarly, the juror that presided over the case in Neal v The Queen [ 14 June 2011] [2011] VSCA 172; 32 VR 454; 213 A Crim R 190, found the offender guilty of using intent to cause gross bodily harm to the people he had sex with thereby causing them to contract the disease. In this case, the applicant failed to exercise his duty of protecting his sexual partners from acquiring the virus by either using a condom or informing them in advance to give them the chance to make informed decisions on having unprotected sex with him (Queensland, 2010).

The main aim of section 266 of the Australian law is to protect people from gross bodily harm by using animate or inanimate objects (Chesterman, Kean, & McPherson, 2006). The section has been used by many jurors to protect the interests and the well-being of the public from being harmed by people with bad intent. In this sense, making a person answerable to his or her gross misconducts that lead to the bodily harm of a person is right as per the legal provisions of the land. Courts have used section 266 to bring offenders to book to ensure that people take care of their actions. This section spells out criminal nature of recklessness, intents and knowingly causing bodily harm to other people not only by using objects but also by taking part or engaging in activities that cause such harm to the people in question (Supreme Cout Of Victori, 1995).

The section has been used for negligent acts and omissions that lead to various types of harm to the people involved. This means that any person who neglects his or her duty and proceeds to hurt another will be guilty of the act unless stated otherwise by the law. For example, if a person is in possession of a firearm, gives the weapon to someone else who dislodges it and kills or harms another person, the law can argue this case in two different ways. On the owner of the firearm can be charged with unlawful manslaughter or with the intent of killing the diseases unless proved otherwise. The jury will have to determine whether the accused intended to kill the diseased or not. Upon the application of the available laws, the defendant will be found guilty or innocent of the act (Queensland, 2010).

By using section 266 to interdict people who willingly infected others with diseases such as HIV, cause bodily harm and the eventual death and injury to people, the section is rightfully used for its purpose in establishing an unlawful act of criminality. In this light, the section also relates to other sections of the law such as section 305 of the Australian law. These aims to outline how the court should proceed in punishing people charged with murder. Using section 266 makes it possible for the jurors to decide whether the accused intentionally caused bodily harm that led to the death of a person or not (Queensland, 2010). The section also makes it possible to establish whether the person owned the weapon that caused bodily harm to the diseased or not. Finally, section 266 makes it possible for judges to decide whether the person had any intentions and motives in killing the individual. Once they establish all these facts and the defendant is found guilty, the jury will use section 305 of the law to decide the type of sentencing that the offender should receive. It is possible to link these two sections because they all provide circumstances under which a person should be charged with murder and other offences stemming from intent, malice, and lack of control and management of the object that caused bodily harm to the complainant.

Using section 305 the jury will decide whether as per section 266 the person was in charge of the weapon, intended to cause bodily harm and was reckless or negligent of his or her actions. They will then decide to either acquit or charge the person with the offense stated in the case. The ability to award effective punishment appears in Section 294A of the law (Queensland, 2010). The section guides the judges to charge a person with manslaughter or first-degree murder. It also states whether the offender should be given parole or not. Similarly, the section enables the judges to decide the number of years that the guilty person should spend in prison.

Apart from linking to section 305, section 266 also work together with section 294A of West Australian in dealing with offences that stem from the possession of dangerous objects. Section 294A has provisions of dealing with issues of death that take place during childbirth. According to this law, any person who causes the death of a child due to an omitted act will be charged with the murder of that child. On the same note, any person who causes the death of an infant as a result of neglecting the needs of the mother at the time of birth of the child is also liable for punishment under the law (Queensland, 2010). This law states that the medical practitioner who foresees all the procedures leading to the birth of child bears responsibility for the childs life. If the medical expert wrongly used the object required during the procedure and caused the death of the child, then the person will be liable for punishment unless otherwise deemed fit by the law. Similarly, if the doctor used other substances such as medicine that harmed the baby during birth and later on causes the death of the child, then the doctor will hold liability for the death of the baby. Section 294A makes it possible for the judges to establish beyond any reasonable doubt whether or not the medical practitioners omitted an important procedure during the birth of the child. They also use the law to determine whether the doctor used an object that caused bodily harm such as brain damages which eventually lead to the death of the child. This section also makes it possible for the judges to define an act of omission during childbirth and apply the same in a court of law to establish the guilt or innocence of the doctor (Queensland, 2010).

The laws in Australia require that every person is responsible for their act or face being jailed. The sections 266, 294A and 305 are important in establishing whether a person is guilty of causing bodily harm to another or not. These sections also make it possible for the judges to formulate effective punishment for the people found guilty of such offences. It is important for every person to know their right under Australian laws and ensure that all their offenders are brought to book and receive the necessary punishment as per the law.


Chesterman, J., Kean, J., & McPherson. (2006). RvReid. Australian Journal of Law .

Queensland. (2010). Criminal Code Act 1899. 1-356.

SupremeCout Of Victori. (1995). RvMwai.

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