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Regina v. Dudley and Stephens

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 14 Q.B.D. 273 (Queen’s Bench Division. 1884).

Brief Fact Summary. Dudley and Stephens (defendants) murdered a fellow young seaman (Parker) in order to save their own lives from starvation. They were found guilty of murder.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Killing an innocent life to save one’s own does not justify murder even if it under extreme necessity of hunger.


Facts. Dudley and Stephens along with Brooks and Parker(victim) were cast away at sea without weeks of food and water except for some turnips and a turtle. After twenty days, Dudley and Stephens proposed one person sacrifice himself in order to save the rest. Brooks dissented while Dudley and Stephens decided to kill Parker since he was the weakest and youngest. On the 25th of July, seeing no rescue in sight, the two men killed Parker and the three men feasted on his body. Four days later a vessel rescued them and Dudley and Stephens were charged with murder.

Issue. Whether the killing of Parker was murder considering the circumstances of this case.

Content Type: Brief


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