Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book Update 53 published

Circumstantial evidence: The Introduction at [2-500] has been re-written to incorporate various statements of the High Court about circumstantial cases in The Queen v Baden-Clay [2016] HCA 35 at [46]–[62].

Complaint evidence: The commentary at [2-590] Evidence of complaint where witness not available under s 65(2) has been amended to include Sio v The Queen [2016] HCA 32. Section 65(2) Evidence Act 1995 is premised upon an assumption that a party is seeking to prove a specific fact. It requires the identification of the particular representation to be adduced to prove that fact. It is then that the circumstances of the representation are considered in order to determine whether the conditions of admissibility have been met under s 65(2).

Complicity: A reference to Miller v The Queen [2016] HCA 30 has been added at [2-740] Joint criminal liability. McAuliffe v The Queen (1995) 183 CLR 108 should not be overruled or confined following R v Jogee; Ruddock v The Queen (Jamaica) [2016] 2 WLR 681. Reform in the area of joint criminal enterprise is a matter for Parliament.

Consciousness of guilt, lies and flight: The decision of The Queen v Baden-Clay [2016] HCA 35 has been added at [2-953] Alternative charges and included offences. It will be for the jury to decide whether the post-offence conduct of the accused is related to the crime before them rather than to some other culpable act. There is no hard and fast rule that evidence of post-offence concealment and lies is always intractably neutral as between murder and manslaughter. References to the decision of Steer v R (2008) 191 A Crim R 435 have been removed so far as that case is inconsistent with The Queen v Baden-Clay.

Onus and standard of proof: Paragraph [3-603] Notes has been amended to include further commentary on Decision Restricted [2016] NSWCCA 63 and Moore v R [2016] NSWCCA 185. Phrasing a question in a question trail “is there a reasonable possibility” that an applicant held the necessary belief for self-defence did not reverse the onus of proof. Proof of a matter beyond reasonable doubt involves rejecting any reasonable possibility inconsistent with the Crown case. The question of reasonable possibility is definitive and does not give rise to an answer other than “yes” or “no” — there is no “middle ground” answer of “not sure”.

Kidnapping — take/detain for advantage/ransom/serious indictable offence: The paragraph [5-2000] Introduction and the suggested direction for the basic offence (s 86(1)) at [5-2010] have been amended to include the decision of Castle v R [2016] NSWCCA 148. Knowledge of lack of consent is an element of an offence under s 86 Crimes Act 1900. It can be satisfied by proving that the accused was reckless as to whether the complainant consented. Recklessness as to lack of consent can be established in a manner similar to that explained in Banditt v The Queen (2005) 224 CLR 262 at [38]. Knowledge of lack of consent cannot be demonstrated by proving the accused did not turn his or her mind to the question in circumstances where lack of consent would be obvious if the accused had considered it distinguished. The objective approach to recklessness in R v Tolmie (1995) 37 NSWLR 660 is not sufficient to establish knowledge of lack of consent for the purpose of a s 86 offence.

Provocation/extreme provocation A new [6-442] Suggested direction — extreme provocation — murder allegedly committed on or after 13 June 2014 has been added. A new [6-444] Notes — extreme provocation has been added to include the dictum in R v Turnbull (No 25) [2016] NSWSC 831 that the removal of the words “in the position of the accused”, as part of the 2014 amendments to s 23 Crimes Act 1900, operates to narrow significantly the “ordinary person” test for the purpose of extreme provocation and an accused’s age (in the sense of immaturity) appears to remain part of the ordinary person test.

Self-defence: Two new paragraphs [6-452] Raising/leaving self-defence and [6-455] Essential components of self-defence direction have been added. The suggested directions at [6-460] and [6-465] have been substantially revised. The text about suggested directions where intoxication is raised at [6-470] and the suggested directions at [6-480] and [6-490] have been amended.