Regina v Boardman: HL 1974

The defendant appealed the admission of similar fact evidence against him. Acts of buggery were alleged by a schoolmaster with boys in which the accused was the passive partner.
Held: In order to be admissible similar facts must bear a striking similarity to the facts of the case currently before the court.
Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest said: The test was whether it was ‘a really material bearing on the issues to be decided’ and it must be such that to exclude the evidence would be ‘an affront to common sense’
Lord Wilberforce said: There must be ‘a strong degree of probative force’ based on the ‘striking similarity’ of the material facts. ‘evidence which would point so strongly to his guilt that only an ultra-cautious jury, if they accepted it as true, would acquit in face of it.’
Lord Cross of Chelsea said: It must be ‘evidence which would point so strongly to his guilt that only an ultra-cautious jury, if they accepted it as true, would acquit in face of it.’
Lord Salmon said: ‘the similarity would have to be so unique or striking that common sense makes it inexplicable on the basis of coincidence.’
Lord Hailsham said: ‘The ‘striking resemblances’ or ‘unusual features’ or whatever phrase is considerable appropriate, to ignore which would affront common sense, may either be in the objective facts . . or may constitute a striking similarity in the accounts by witnesses of disputed transaction. For instance, while it would certainly not be enough to identify the culprit in a series of burglaries that he climbed in through a ground floor window, the fact that he left the same humorous limerick on the walls of the sitting room, are an esoteric symbol written in lipstick on the mirror, might well be enough.’


Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Wilberforce, Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone, Lord Cross of Chelsea, Lord Salmon


[1975] AC 421, [1974] 3 All ER 887, (1975) 60 Cr App R 165, [1974] 3 WLR 673, 60 CR A131


England and Wales


CitedMakin v Attorney-General for New South Wales PC 12-Dec-1893
The accused had been charged with the murder of an infant who had been given into their care by the child’s mother after payment of a fee. They appealed after admission of evidence that several other infants had been received by the accused persons . .
CitedRegina v Kilbourne HL 1973
The respondent was convicted of sexual offences against two groups of boys. The trial judge directed the jury that they would be entitled to take into account the uncorroborated evidence of the second group as supporting evidence given by the first . .

Cited by:

CitedO’Brien v Chief Constable of the South Wales Police CA 23-Jul-2003
The claimant sought damages for malicious prosecution, and sought to adduce similar fact evidence. The defendant appealed an order admitting the evidence.
Held: Comparisons between admission of similar fact evidence in civil and criminal . .
CitedThorpe v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police CA 1989
The plaintiff was arrested at a demonstration, charged with obstructing the highway and convicted before the magistrates. His conviction was quashed by the Crown Court on appeal. He sued for assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and malicious . .
CitedO’Brien v Chief Constable of South Wales Police HL 28-Apr-2005
The claimant sought damages against the police, and wanted to bring in evidence of previous misconduct by the officers on a similar fact basis. They had been imprisoned and held for several years based upon admissions which they said they had . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v P HL 1991
The defendant faced specimen counts of rape and incest against each of his two daughters. The trial judge refused an application for separate trials in respect of the offences alleged against each daughter. The defendant was convicted.
Held: . .
CitedSteel v Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 10-Feb-1993
The plaintiffs sued three police officers for malicious prosecution. Specific discovery of documents relating to the previous misconduct of one of these officers was refused.
Held: Appeal allowed. Confessions were the only evidence against the . .
CitedRegina v Beedles CACD 31-Jul-1996
The defendant appealed against his conviction for sexual assault. The issue was whether a note written by the complainant to her teacher was admissible as evidence of recent complaint to corroborate her statement. Similar allegations had been made . .
CitedRegina v Cambridge CACD 2-Aug-2011
. .
CitedMitchell, Regina v SC 19-Oct-2016
Appeal against conviction for murder. Evidence was agreed with her representatives as to previous acts using knives, but was presented despite withdrawal by her of her consent. The prosecution now appealed against the quashing of the conviction.
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Evidence

Updated: 11 June 2022; Ref: scu.186038