Practice and Procedure

R v F (2003)

PUBLISHED April 3, 2003

In a trial for buggery and indecent assault on a young boy the conviction was safe where the judge allowed cross-examination by the crown about photographs the defendant had of another young man where the cross-examination was not to suggest homosexual propensity but to rebut the inference that the defendant's relationship with the victim was innocent.Appeal against conviction with leave of the single judge. On 24 October 2001 at the Central Criminal Court before HH Judge Roberts QC the defendant ('F') was convicted, following a retrial, of buggery and indecent assault on a male. On 23 November 2001 he was sentenced to a total of five years' imprisonment. In 1982 F had met and befriended a young boy of twelve ('V') and his family. F was twenty years older than V. In 1999 V had counselling for gambling addiction, he was in severe financial difficulties and had started stealing from his family and from F. It was whilst he was being counselled that he first alleged that F had indecently assaulted and buggered him. F, who was of previous good character admitting becoming acquainted with V through their mutual enjoyment of golf but denied any sexual impropriety. Initially, and at the first trial, V stated that the abuse had ceased in 1986/87. In cross-examination he changed his account and said that the abuse continued until 1994/95. At the second trial he stated the abuse had continued until 1994/95 partly because of the financial advantages from the relationship. Evidence was given of gifts from F, including gifts of money. F contended that V's evidence was unreliable. Evidence was adduced to show that his disposition was heterosexual. A witness ('L') gave evidence for the defence stating he had also been befriended by F, through golf, and had received financial assistance but there had been no sexual impropriety. Before L gave evidence the Crown made an application to cross-examine F regarding photos he had taken of L. The pictures were not of an indecent nature but not all were taken in a golfing environment. The judge ruled in favour of the Crown and held that it was not a question of propensity or waiting to see if the defence would call L because the defence had given great detail of F's relationship with L and it was open to the Crown to test that evidence. F appealed conviction on the ground that the judge was wrong to allow cross-examination on the photographs. The effect of the ruling allowed F to be cross-examined regarding sexual propensity with another apart from V and that was wrong because it was not similar fact evidence.HELD: (1) It was plain that the evidence of F regarding L, and in due course the evidence of L himself, was deployed to support the specific purpose of undermining the account given by V. The Crown's use of the photo album was not to suggest a homosexual propensity to young boys but to rebut the evidence that F had a perfectly innocent relationship with L and the inference that the relationship with V was the same. (2) The cross examination was directed at a specific purpose and the judge was right to allow cross-examination.Appeal dismissed.