Was the accused guilty of manslaughter for failing to ring triple-0? Which case won?
Misusers of prescription medications acquire Xanax and OxyContin tablets
The deceased, the accused and another man were all misusers of prescription medications, in particular, OxyContin. This is a brand name of oxycodone, an opioid drug prescribed by doctors for pain relief and misused by some for recreational purposes. They would “mull up” the tablets (ie dissolve them in water in a spoon) and then inject the drug intravenously.
On one particular day, the group of three had procured some Xanax, a short-acting benzodiazepine which is prescribed by doctors to relieve anxiety and which is also misused by some for the purpose of intoxication.
While there was disagreement about the number of Xanax tablets procured and who took how many of those tablets, the court determined that all three members of the group had some of the tablets.
After this, the three went to the home of another man and swapped some alcohol, which they’d previously stolen, for OxyContin. The deceased, the accused and the other man all took some OxyContin.
Deceased loses consciousness and is driven to home of accused
The deceased began to “nod off”, ie lose consciousness, and was placed in the back of a utility vehicle belonging to the accused.
There is disagreement between witnesses as to the precise sequence of events, but the court accepted that the accused drove the deceased from the first house to her home.
The deceased was found dead on the ground next to the ute by the mother of the accused, after she arrived home from work at 7.30 in the morning.
Did the accused assume duty of care of the deceased? And did her actions cause his death?
There were two important questions in dispute in this case.
The first is whether the prosecution could prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused by her actions caused the death of the deceased. The second is whether the prosecution could prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused assumed a duty of care for the deceased.
There was also a very real question as to whether the deceased died before or after the accused drove him from the house where they had taken the OxyContin.