Brown, Regina v (Northern Ireland): SC 26 Jun 2013

The complainaint, a 13 year old girl had first said that the defendant had had intercourse with her againt her consent. After his arrest, she accepted that this was untrue. On being recharged with unlawful intercourse, he admitted guilt believing he had no defence. The Court was now asked whether there was a requirement for the prosecution to prove a defendant had an absence of belief that the person they were having sexual intercourse with was over the age of 13, before they can be convicted of an offence of unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 14.
Held: The appeal failed: ‘ there can really be no doubt that section 4 in its original form was intended to impose criminal liability for carnal knowledge of a female under the age of 13 without proof that the perpetrator knew or had reason to believe that she was below that age.’ That had not changed on the subsequent amendment of the Act.
Lord Kerr endorsed the proposition that an amended statute is to be construed as a whole in its amended form, although in so doing he did not suggest that the legislative history is to be ignored and he examined the purpose of the relevant amendment in its context.

Lord Neuberger, President, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed
[2013] UKSC 43, UKSC 2011/0233, [2013] 4 All ER 860
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC
Northern Ireland
Appeal fromBrown, Regina v CANI 8-Sep-2011
The defendant appealed against his conviction for having had unlawful sex with an underage girl. He had pleaded guilty but now said this had been n a misunderstanding of the law. He had believed the girl to be 15, but his belief that that belief was . .
CitedRegina v Prince 1875
The defendant was convicted of unlawfully taking an unmarried girl under the age of 16 out the possession of her father. The defendant bona fide and on reasonable grounds believed that the girl was over 16.
Held: This provided no defence. ‘It . .
CitedNorth Wales Police v Anglesey Justices and Another Admn 5-Feb-2008
Maurice Kay LJ said: ‘Mr Wells submits, and I accept, that the form and content of the summons are not strictly relevant to the question whether the proceedings were initiated by complaint rather than by the laying of an information. The essential . .
CitedGammon (Hong Kong) Ltd v A-G of Hong Kong PC 1984
Lord Scarman expressed the purpose of imposing strict liability within criminal law: ‘In their Lordships’ opinion, the law relevant to this appeal may be stated in the following propositions . . : (1) there is a presumption of law that mens rea is . .
CitedRegina v K HL 25-Jul-2001
In a prosecution for an offence of indecent assault on a girl under 16 under the section, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove the absence of a positive belief in the defendant’s mind that the victim was 16 or over. The legislation history . .
CitedSweet v Parsley HL 23-Jan-1969
Mens Rea essential element of statutory Offence
The appellant had been convicted under the Act 1965 of having been concerned in the management of premises used for smoking cannabis. This was a farmhouse which she visited infrequently. The prosecutor had conceded that she was unaware that the . .
CitedB (A Minor) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 23-Feb-2000
Prosecution to prove absence of genuine belief
To convict a defendant under the 1960 Act, the prosecution had the burden of proving the absence of a genuine belief in the defendant’s mind that the victim was 14 or over. The Act itself said nothing about any mental element, so the assumption must . .
CitedRegina v J HL 14-Oct-2004
The defendant was to have been accused of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16. Proceedings could not be brought, because the allegation was more than a year old, and he was instead accused of indecent assault, but on the same . .
CitedRegina v Kumar CACD 16-Dec-2004
The defendant appealed a conviction for buggery of a complainant under the age of 16, saying that he had a genuine belief that the boy had been of age.
Held: Buggery was not an absolute offence. The amendments to the 1956 Act did not signify . .
CitedRegina v G (Secretary of State for the Home Department intervening) HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant was fifteen. He was convicted of statutory rape of a 13 year old girl, believing her to be 15. He appealed saying that as an offence of strict liability he had been denied a right to a fair trial, and also that the offence charged was . .

Cited by:
CitedBrown (Jamaica), Regina (on The Applications of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 4-Mar-2015
B, an homosexual immigrant for Jamaica, resisted his return, saying that he would be prosecuted. The Secretary of State now appealed against a finding that his inclusion of Jamaica within the statutory list of safe countries for return was not . .
CitedLane and Another, Regina v SC 11-Jul-2018
The defendants were to be tried for allegedly sending funds abroad to support terrorism. The court now considered the meaning of the phrase ‘reasonable cause to suspect’ in the context of the anticipated use of the funds: ‘Does it mean that the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.511084