(Court of Appeal; Moore-Bick LJ, David Clarke and Swift JJ; 25 May 2007)
The 4-month-old child was assaulted by mother's partner; the mother failed to seek medical treatment for the resulting serious injury to the child. Some weeks later the mother's partner inflicted a serious blow to child's head, causing the child's death. The mother was charged under Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, s 5, of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult by the unlawful act of a person in the same household, when she was aware, or ought to have been aware, of a 'significant' risk of serious physical harm to the victim by the unlawful act of such a person. The judge directed the jury that 'significant' meant simply 'more than minimal'.
The term 'significant' was an ordinary English word in common general use and the judge ought not to have attempted to define it for the jury's benefit. However, the conviction was still safe, as there had been powerful evidence that the mother's partner represented a considerable risk to the child.