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  • Writer's pictureShaun Pascoe

Case Study: Successful Defence of Sexual Offences

Updated: Mar 21

Table of Contents


 

Summary of Facts

Charges



Court



Our client was alleged to have engaged in sexual activity (masturbation) witnessed by a neighbour. A complaint was made to the police and our client questioned by police at his home several days after the incident. He strongly denied the allegations. Approximately 6 weeks later our client was formally interviewed at a police station and again he denied the allegations.


The prosecution case was based solely on the observations of the complainant. A photograph was taken by the complainant but it was not possible to discern the identity of the person from that photograph.


The case proceeded through a case conference, contest mention and finally, a contested hearing. At all stages of the proceedings, our client maintained his instructions that he was not guilty of the allegations levelled against him.


What Happened at Court?

At the contested hearing the complainant was cross-examined as to the quality of her observations. Other topics included the extent to our client (assuming that her identification was correct) was aware that he was being watched by the complainant and consequently had deliberately engaged in the alleged sexual activity to cause distress to her.


On her evidence, she admitted that our client did not not look at her, or make any attempt to get her attention. In fact, her evidence was that she was sure that our client was not aware she was watching him.


The police officer with carriage of the investigation was also cross-examined as to the adequacy of the investigation and potential witnesses that could have been questioned but were not. Through cross-examination of the Informant it was also reinforced that our client had no criminal history.


As our client had already participated in a field interview, and formal interview our client did not give evidence at the hearing, but called two witnesses to attest to his good character. After the closure of the defence case, the Magistrate was required to assess all of the evidence, and determine the strength of the prosecution case against our client


Submissions were made to the presiding Magistrate that the prosecution had not established on the evidence that the elements to the indictable charge of Sexual activity directed at another person were made out. The Magistrate accepted this submission.


Submissions were also made as to how he should direct himself as to the evidence in cases involving word-on-word. The Magistrate was not satisfied that the prosecution could prove the remaining two (2) offences beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly our client was acquitted on all offences.

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