R v. Holland (1841) 2 Moody and Robinson 351
The defendant inflicted a knife wound on the victim’s finger. The wound got infected, and gangrene set in. The victim was advised to get the finger amputated, or else he would die. He refused, and the infection got worse. Although he later accepted having his finger amputated, it was considered too late. He subsequently died. The defendant was charged with murder.
Whether or not the defendant’s refusal to have his finger amputated broke the chain of causation.
Argument of the Defendant:
That the cause of death was not the wound inflicted by the prisoner but the obstinate refusal of the deceased to submit to proper surgical treatment, by which the fatal result would, according to the evidence, have been prevented.
The victim’s refusal to have his finger amputated did not break the chain of causation.
Applying the "but for" test, the court held that the victim would not have died but for the wound inflicted by the defendant. The victim’s refusal did not thus break the chain of causation.