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Homicide in the Course of Other Crime in Australia

NCJ Number
Jenny Mouzos
Date Published
May 2003
6 pages
This document discusses homicide incidents that occur in the course of other crime.
On some occasions, the act of homicide is an unplanned consequence of another criminal act. These homicides involve “double victims;” the victim in the initial crime of robbery or sexual assault becomes the victim in the homicide as well. Homicides that occur during the course of other crime are commonly classified as “instrumental homicides” because the death of the victim is subsidiary to the primary goal -- acquisition of money, property, or control. Of the 4,108 homicide incidents that occurred in Australia between 1989 and 2002, 542 (13 percent) occurred in the course of another crime. These incidents differ significantly from “noncrime” homicide incidents. A number of factors associated with the vulnerability of the victims targeted, weapon instrumentality, and the priority of the investigative process and seriousness of the offense may account for these differences. Over the 13-year period, there was less than one such homicide per week, yet the random and criminogenic nature of these homicides requires the preventive focus to be on violent crime and weapon use. Homicides caused in the course of another crime are solved in 78 percent of cases, whereas other homicides are solved in 89 percent of cases. Most homicides that occur in the course of another crime occur during a robbery. Two-thirds of homicide victims are men. Three-quarters of robbery-homicide victims are men. One-quarter of homicide victims are aged 45 or older. One-half of the victims killed in a robbery are over the age of 45. Because there is not one type of homicide in Australia, the prevention of homicide must therefore be multifaceted and far-reaching. Multivariate analyses are needed to examine the factors that increase the probability that a robbery will result in death. Such analyses should include additional variables, such as the involvement of alcohol and/or illicit drugs, and the employment status of both victims and offenders. 1 figure, 2 tables, 3 notes, 23 references


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