Sexual Assault Trials Handbook Update 41 published

Update 41, November 2023

[6-000] Recent sexual assault law on JIRS

The following recent cases have been added:


  • LF v R [2023] NSWCCA 232 — Criminal Procedure Act 1986, ss 306U, 306Y — child sexual offences — child witness’ evidence in chief recorded in police interview — application to exclude interview on basis not in “interests of justice” to tender recording — judge did not err in dismissing application — Evidence Act 1995, ss 165, 165A — judge did not err in directions about unreliability of witness’ evidence
  • Arizabaleta v R [2023] NSWCCA 217 — Evidence — sexual offences — accused convicted of three counts — complainant only made immediate and clear complaint about one count — equivocal or delayed complaint about remaining counts — verdicts not unreasonable — observations on malleability of witnesses’ memory
  • Decision Restricted [2023] NSWCCA 163 — Evidence Act, ss 97, 97A, 101— tendency evidence — child sexual offences — cross-admissibility of tendency evidence of three complainants — tendency notice alleged acts less serious than some charged offences — no error in judge excluding evidence under s 101 — danger of unfair prejudice outweighed probative value — observations on “exceptional circumstances” in s 97A


  • HA v R [2023] NSWCCA 274 — Sentencing — Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, s 21A(2)(k) — aggravating factor of abuse of trust/authority — Crimes Act 1900, s 66A(1) (since amended) — sexual intercourse with child under 10 — Crown and applicant accepted s 21A(2)(k) satisfied — judge erred by relying upon matters falling within aggravated s 66A(2) offence (under authority) — De Simoni error
  • Kilby v R [2023] NSWCCA 247 — Sentencing — aggravating features — applicant sentenced for child sexual offences including sexual intercourse and act of indecency with child (Crimes Act 1900, ss 66C(1), 61N (rep) respectively) — judge referred to applicant’s position of authority as “aggravating feature” — judge did not conclude aggravated offence or Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, s 21A(2)(k) feature of statutory aggravation, had been made out — position of authority can be considered as part of instinctive synthesis
  • R v Packer [2023] NSWCCA 87 — Sentencing — Crown appeal — Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, s 21A(2)(g) — substantial harm — respondent committed sexual offences against live-in housekeeper and disseminated intimate images which damaged victim’s relationship with her family in Nepal — judge failed to take into account significant emotional harm suffered by victim as an aggravating factor under s 21A(2)(g)
  • R v RE [2023] NSWCCA 184 — Sentencing — Crimes Act1900, s 61HA(3) (since amended) — knowledge of non-consent — respondent convicted of sexual offences after trial — judge’s finding respondent’s state of mind in “least serious” category of knowledge (s 61HA(3)(c): no reasonable grounds for believing consent) open — if judge not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of more culpable forms of knowledge in s 61HA(3)(a), (b), finding of knowledge in s 61HA(3)(c) necessary default — in assessing objective seriousness, generalised phrases or range labels not useful — R v RE [2023] NSWCCA 184


  • Van Gestel v R [2023] NSWCCA 263 — Offences — Crimes Act 1900, ss 61M(1)(rep), 61E(1)(rep) — historical indecent assault of children — no “indecent intent” required — majority decision in R v Court [1989] 1 AC 28 not followed — Evidence Act 1995, ss 66, 108(3)(b) — complaint evidence relevant to re-establishing credibility
  • MK v R [2023] NSWCCA 180 — Offences — Crimes Act 1900, s 66EA — persistent sexual abuse of child — five-judge bench — statutory interpretation — offence requires existence of relationship “in which” unlawful sexual acts were committed — word “maintains” in s 66EA(1) adds nothing to actus reus beyond satisfaction of s 66EA(2) — no requirement for sexual relationship over and above unlawful sexual acts — judges’ directions conformed with proper construction — RW v R [2023] NSWCCA 2 (restricted) and R v RB [2022] NSWCCA 142 overruled


  • Duncan v R [2023] NSWCCA 223 — Appeals — Conviction appeal — child sexual assault — verdicts not unreasonable or unsupported by evidence — appeal dismissed — observations on complainant responses to sexual assaults
  • EE v R [2023] NSWCCA 188 — Appeals — unreasonable verdicts — Criminal Appeal Act 1912, s 6(1) — judge-alone trial — judge did not err in resolving conflicting evidence of complaint — complaint “limited” and not especially memorable — error in judge’s reasoning process resolving disputed facts not challengeable under “first limb” of s 6(1) (unreasonable verdict) but challengeable under “third limb” (miscarriage of justice) — Dansie supersedes any suggestion in Filippou v The Queen that errors in reasoning process can engage first limb of s 6(1) — verdict not unreasonable
  • Roberts v R [2023] NSWCCA 187 — Appeals — fitness to be tried — Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020, s 44 — applicant raised fitness to be tried for first time on appeal — despite new legislative regime prescribing different decision-maker (judge-alone, not jury), applicable test still that in R v RTI (2003) 58 NSWLR 438 — question of principle on appeal not based on identity of decision-maker but rather whether miscarriage of justice occurred


  • Lee v R [2023] NSWCCA 203 — Directions — sexual offences — consent — Crimes Act 1900, s 61HE(3)(b), (c) (rep) — “non-advertent” recklessness not abolished by unreasonable belief in consent — no error in judge’s directions — Criminal Procedure Act 1986, ss 292A–249E — mandatory consent directions only apply if accused arraigned after commencement of provisions
  • AB v R [2023] NSWCCA 165 — Directions — child sexual offences — child accused — Crown disclaimed consciousness of guilt reasoning in case but used it to rebut doli incapax presumption — judge gave no Edwards or Zoneff directions to jury — absence of direction in light of Crown’s conduct of trial occasioned miscarriage of justice — acquittal entered

[6-050] Other publications

The following publications from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research (BOCSAR) have been added:

[7-500] Relevant literature — non-legal articles

The following article has been added:

At [7-2120], A George et al, “Specialist approaches to managing sexual assault proceedings: an integrative review”, AIJA and Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department Report, 2023.

The report addresses two critical issues in the management of sexual assault proceedings that call for specialist approaches: barriers to reporting, and re-traumatising features of the criminal legal process.