Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book Update 76 published

Update 76, April 2024

Update 76 amends the Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book to incorporate recent case law and legislative developments. The following chapters have been revised:


  • [2-305] Causation generally to add a reference to Baker v R [2023] NSWCCA 262 which held that causation can be established where the accused’s act or omission accelerates death, even where death was inevitable because of a pre-existing condition. The suggested direction has also been amended to provide for this factual circumstance.


  • [2-755] Notes to suggested direction for joint criminal enterprise to add reference to The King v Rohan (a pseudonym) [2024] HCA 3 regarding the Crown’s obligation to establish knowledge of offence elements only and not additional “essential facts”.

Joint trials

  • The chapter at [3-350]ff has been substantially revised and rewritten to incorporate the principles governing joint trials contained in McNamara v The King [2023] HCA 36.

Onus and standard of proof

  • [3-615] Notes to suggested direction regarding essential Crown witness (“Murray direction”) (in cases other than prescribed sexual offences) to include discussion of multiple accused and add reference to Huxley v The Queen [2023] HCA 40.

Complaint evidence

  • [5-020] Suggested direction — where complaint evidence admitted under s 66(2) to update the suggested direction.

Maintain unlawful sexual relationship with a child

  • [5-720] Suggested direction — maintain unlawful sexual relationship with child updated to address scenarios where either the unlawful sexual acts are also alternately charged as separate offences, or where they are not alternately charged.

Sexual intercourse without consent — until 31 May 2022

  • [5-820] Suggested direction — sexual intercourse without consent (s 61I) where alleged offence committed on or after 1 January 2008 and before 1 June 2022 to update the suggested direction.


  • [5-6250] Manslaughter by criminal negligence to add reference to Baker v R [2023] NSWCCA 262 regarding causation in cases of manslaughter by criminal negligence.