R v B [2012] EWCA Crim 770, [2012] MHLO 42

The appellant, an autistic young man who was prosecuted for voyeurism for looking into a swimming pool cubicle, was found by the judge to be unfit to be tried and by the jury to have committed the act charged against him. Voyeurism consists of, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, observing another person doing a private act, knowing that the other person does not consent to being observed for sexual gratification (s67 Sexual Offences Act 2003). (1) Contrary to the judge's direction, the 'act' includes 'for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification' (only the knowledge was part of the state of mind); hence, the jury's determination was unsafe and the appeal would be allowed. (2) The question of whether the jury should have had expert evidence on whether the appellant had committed the act was (although treated with some doubt) left open for argument in a future case. (3) A Sexual Offences Prevention Order could only be made 'for the purpose of protecting the public or any particular members of the public from serious sexual harm from the defendant'; (obiter) there was no proper basis for making this order. (4) Because of a gap in the legislation, there was no power to order a retrial, even if the court had wanted to: s16(4) Criminal Appeal Act 1968 requires the court, when allowing such an appeal, to quash the finding and direct that a verdict of acquittal be recorded.


Judgment: 20/4/12

Hearing date : 9/3/12

Before: Aikens LJ, Blake J, Recorder of Redbridge

Alison Ginn (instructed by CPS) for the Respondent

Patricia May (instructed by Wheldon Law) for the Appellant

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