In DL v The Queen  HCA 26 (20 June 2018) the majority of the High Court of Australia has dismissed an appeal from the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia, sitting as the Court of Criminal Appeal (see R v D, L  SASCFC 24 (10 March 2015)), finding that the trial judge's reasons for convicting the appellant had not been inadequate.
The appellant had been charged under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) section 50(1) with one count of persistent sexual exploitation of a child. Section 50(1) provided that it was an offence for an adult to commit ". . . over a period of not less than three days . . . more than one act of sexual exploitation of a particular child". The complainant who was the appellant's nephew, alleged that the appellant committed various acts of sexual exploitation when the complainant was aged between five and 15 years.
At trial the appellant was tried by judge alone and convicted and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
The appellant had argued that a number of alleged inconsistencies and implausibilities in the complainant's evidence meant that the complainant could not be ". . . relied upon about the substantive allegations". The trial judge described the complainant as having given evidence ". . . in a forthright and convincing manner", and said the complainant was ". . . a straightforward man", was ". . . a man endeavouring to tell the truth" and ". . . was describing real events that happened to him".
The trial judge accepted that the complainant's evidence about the timing of some events was inaccurate, however, the trial judge regarded the complainant as ". . . a reliable witness as to the core allegations".
The appellant appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed (see R v D, L  SASCFC 24 (10 March 2015)).
The appellant appealed to the High Court by grant of special leave arguing that the trial judge's reasons were inadequate because they failed to identify the two or more acts of sexual exploitation found to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the process of reasoning leading to the conclusion of the appellant's guilt of those acts.
The majority of the High Court dismissed the appeal finding that the trial judge's ultimate conclusion was that the appellant sexually assaulted the complainant on numerous occasions over a period of some years. Such a conclusion meant that the elements of the offence had been proved. The majority of the High Court concluded that the findings of the trial judge that the complainant was reliable as to the ". . . core allegations" and was describing ". . . real events" were an acceptance that the complainant was truthful and reliable about all of the sexual acts that he had described. The majority of the High Court found that the reasons were sufficient to identify, and to disclose the process of reasoning leading to the trial judge's finding of the two or more acts of sexual exploitation on which the conviction was based.
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DL v The Queen  HCA 26 (20 June 2018)
R v D, L  SASCFC 24 (10 March 2015)
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