Regina v Kearley: HL 3 Jun 1992

Telephone calls which were made to the defendant’s phone asking for drugs, but made after the arrest of the defendant for supplying drugs were inadmissible as hearsay. They were adduced to prove, by implication, the fact that he, as an occupier of the premises, was a supplier of drugs. The majority held that the hearsay rule applied to implied as well as express assertions, so that the evidence should not have been admitted by the trial judge. The requests for drugs were evidence of the state of mind of the person making the request but that person’s state of mind was not an issue at the trial. As a result, the requests for drugs were irrelevant and inadmissible.
Lord Bridge referred to the US federal rules of evidence which had adopted a rule confining the concept of hearsay to express assertions and conduct intended to amount to assertion, which outcome was interpreted to mean that assertions had to be intended to persuade in order to be caught by the hearsay rule. He identified: ‘the only rational ground for excluding from the scope of the hearsay rule assertions which are not express but implied by the words and conduct of persons not called as witnesses. Put shortly, the speakers’ words and conduct are motivated quite independently of any possible intention to mislead and are thus exempt from the suspicion attaching to express assertions and are, in that sense, self authenticating.’


Lord Ackner, Lord Bridge


Gazette 03-Jun-1992, [1992] 2 AC 228, [1992] 2 All ER 345, [1992] Crim LR 797, [1992] 2 WLR 656


England and Wales


ApprovedTeper v The Queen PC 1952
The defendant was charged with arson of his own shop. A woman had been heard to shout to a passing motorist ‘Your place burning and you going away from the fire’.
Held: the defendant’s alibi could not be contradicted by the evidence of a . .
ApprovedSubramaniam v Director of Public Prosecutions PC 1956
(Malaysia) The defendant sought to advance a defence of duress under a section of the Penal Code of the Federated Malay States which provided that, with certain exceptions, ‘nothing is an offence which is done by a person who is compelled to do it . .

Cited by:

No longer effectiveRegina v Singh CACD 23-Feb-2006
The evidence against the defendant was that he was the holder and user of mobile telephone lines used in a kidnapping. The court used evidence of the numbers stored in other mobile phones contacted by him to show that he was part of a conspiracy. It . .
CitedRegina v Chrysostomou CACD 24-Jun-2010
The defendant appealed against his conviction for harassment. He was said to have used an imitation firearm to put a person in fear of violence. The prosecution had used texts received to the defendant’s mobile phone as ‘bad character’ evidence. The . .
CitedRegina v Twist and Others CACD 12-May-2011
The court considered the application of the 2003 Act to communications made to, or by, the defendant, and in particular text messages sent by mobile telephone.
Held: The four appeals against conviction were dismissed. Singh established that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Evidence

Updated: 09 April 2022; Ref: scu.87035