Regina v Keast: CACD 5 Nov 1997

The defendant appealed several convictions for sexual assault against his step-daughters. He said that evidence of her demeanour had been wrongly admitted.
Held: The distress of a complainant shortly after or at the time of an allegation of rape or indecent assault could be admitted to show consistency with the description of the incident given by the victim, but it could not be regarded as confirming the victim’s story from an independent source. As to long-term demeanour however, the court stated that, where the sexual abuse was alleged to have taken place over a period of time it would be difficult to attribute evidence of the victim’s demeanour to that sexual abuse, although it might be admitted for the purpose of showing that the victim’s account had not been recently invented. The court added that to allow evidence of demeanour to be given merely to show consistency or inconsistency with the complainant’s account obscured the fact that, unless there were some concrete basis for regarding the demeanour and state of mind described by the witnesses as confirming or disproving that sexual abuse had occurred, it could not assist a jury bringing their common sense to bear on who was telling the truth. The court nonetheless held that the admission of the evidence of demeanour did not render the appellant’s conviction unsafe because the judge had clearly directed the jury that the evidence concerning demeanour in no way confirmed what she had said.


Lord Justice Beldam, Mr Justice Ognall, and Mr Justice Poole


[1998] Crim LR 748, [1997] EWCA Crim 2828


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Venn CACD 1-Feb-2003
The defendant appealed convictions for sexual assault against four young girls.
Held: The admissibility of ‘similar fact’ evidence depends upon the degree of its relevance. If only suggests propensity it is inadmissible. If it goes further and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Evidence

Updated: 11 October 2022; Ref: scu.152283