[3-150] Suggested direction

You may, in your role as judges of the facts, draw inferences from the direct evidence. There is nothing extraordinary about that. We all do it, consciously or otherwise, in our everyday lives.

Inferences are conclusions of fact rationally drawn from a combination of proved facts. If A, B and C are established as facts then one might rationally conclude that D is also a fact, even though there might be no direct evidence that D is indeed a fact. Inferences may be valid or invalid, justified or unjustified, correct or incorrect.

Let me give you an illustration. If you telephone a friend whom you then expect to be home and the phone rings and rings, unanswered, you might perhaps infer that the person has gone out. If you get the engaged signal you might infer that the person is at home but is speaking to someone else on the phone.

In a criminal trial, you must be satisfied of the guilt of [the accused] beyond reasonable doubt. Amongst other things, that means that you should be extremely careful about drawing any inference. You should examine any possible inference to ensure that it is a justifiable inference.

In my illustration about the telephone call, you will, when you think about it, realise that the possible inferences I suggested were really somewhat questionable. In either case, the phone might have been out of order or, indeed, you might have unwittingly dialled the wrong number or the person might have been there but in the shower.

In the context of a criminal trial you should not draw an inference from the direct evidence unless it is a rational inference in the circumstances. In the present case, the Crown asks you to draw an inference that … [apply principles to case in hand].

[3-160] Notes

See also Circumstantial evidence [2-500].