Rarotonga, 2010

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Civil and Administrative
Litigation Opinions
for Self-Reppers


Criminal - Reasons for Decision

. R. v. N.C.

In R. v. N.C. (Ont CA, 2024) the Ontario Court of Appeal found that a conviction could not be supported where "(a)t no point in his reasons did the trial judge make any finding that the Crown had proven mens rea beyond a reasonable doubt":
[10] We also agree with the appellant’s second submission that the trial judge erred by failing to turn his mind to the mens rea requirement of the offence. At no point in his reasons did the trial judge make any finding that the Crown had proven mens rea beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the trial judge stated the following at the end of his reasons:
In accordance with the law that I recited earlier, the court's acceptance of the complainant's testimony on this point, means that the actus reus of a sexual assault has been made out. The Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused, [N.C.], committed a sexual assault against [E.K.]. He is found guilty of the offence of sexual assault, contrary to section 271 of the Criminal Code. [Emphasis added.]
[11] Having concluded that the actus reus of the offence had been committed, the trial judge was required to turn his mind to whether the necessary mental state – knowing of or being wilfully blind or reckless as to lack of consent – had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. While we acknowledge that a trial judge is under no obligation, in reasons for judgment, to expound on basic criminal law principles, that does not mean that trial judges are relieved from their obligation to provide reasons that permit appellate review. We are of the view that these reasons do not meet that standard. As we read the record, although defence counsel acknowledged the case was about the complainant’s “consent”, he did not expressly concede that the appellant had knowledge of a lack of consent. Respectfully, the trial judge did not grapple with the entirety of the appellant’s evidence nor did he make an explicit finding that there was no air of reality to a mistake of fact defence. The reasons do not review important aspects of what the appellant stated he did to ascertain consent from the complainant, including asking her questions, nor do the reasons deal with the evidence of what the appellant testified was behaviour and communication that he perceived to be consent.


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Last modified: 04-04-24
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