Regina v Straffen: CCA 20 Aug 1952

The defendant had been arrested for murders of young girls, but after being found unfit to plead, he was committed to Broadmoor. While he escaped another girl was murdered, and he was charged. The prosecutor sought to bring in evidence of admissions made at Broadmoor and of the earlier allegations.
Held: The Judges’ Rules were intended to control the admission of statements made to the police, not statements alsewhere. The statement was admissible. The defendant had denied the murder but in doing so had admitted the earlier murders. The general rules is not to admit such evidence. The similar fact evidence could be described as evidence of pure propensity to commit crimes similar to that with which he was charged.
Slade, Devlin, Gorman JJ
[1952] 2 QB 911
England and Wales

  • Cited – Makin 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 . .
    [1894] AC 57, [1893] UKPC 56
  • Cited – Harris v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1952
    The House discussed the principle laid down in Makin’s case as to the admission of similar fact evidence.
    Held: After approving the case, Lord Simon said: ‘It is, I think, an error to attempt to draw up a closed list of the sort of cases in . .
    [1952] 1 The Times LR 1075
  • Cited – Perkins v Jeffery 1915
    Similar fact evidence might be admitted to help identify the defendant. . .
    [1915] 2 KB 702, 31 TLR 444, 113 LT 456
  • Cited – Thompson v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1918
    The defendant was charged with gross indecency against boys. The defendant denied that he was the offender. Evidence was admitted that on arrest the defendant was in possession of powder puffs and that a search of his rooms uncovered indecent . .
    [1918] AC 221, (1918) 13 Cr App R 61

Cited by:

  • Cited – O’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 . .
    [2003] EWCA Civ 1085, Times 22-Aug-03, Gazette 02-Oct-03
  • Cited – O’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 . .
    [2005] UKHL 26, Times 29-Apr-05, [2005] 2 WLR 1038, [2005] 2 All ER 931, [2005] 2 AC 534

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 December 2020; Ref: scu.186039