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Case Briefs

R v Sansregret

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FactsEdit

Sansregret and the complainant lived together. Their relationship had been violent: "slappings" or "roughing up" in his description, "blows" in hers. On September 23, 1982, the complainant ended their relationship. A few days later Sansregret attacked the complainant with a file-like object. The complainant managed to calm him down by holding out hope of some sort of reconciliation and engaging in intercourse. The complainant reported the incident to the police, but Sansregret's parole officer encouraged her not to press charges as it would interfere with his parole. On October 15, 1982, Sansregret again broke into the complainant's house where he picked up a butcher knife and entered the complainant's bedroom. The complainant, fearful for her life, again tried to calm him down by pretending that there was some hope of reconciliation. They engaged in intercourse shortly later, but the complainant stated that she engaged in intercourse only to prevent further violence. She later filed charges against the appellant for rape.

Sansregret was acquitted at trial as the judge found that he had mistakenly believed she had consented and under the ruling in Pappajohn the trial judge felt she had no choice but to uphold stare decisis. The Court of Appeal overturned that ruling finding there was not an air of reality about the mistaken belief in consent, and Sansregret appealed to the Supreme Court.

IssueEdit

  1. Is willful blindness relevant to a mistake of fact in consent in a sexual assault charge?

DecisionEdit

Appeal dismissed.

ReasonsEdit

McIntyre, writing for the majority, entered a conviction on the basis that even if the accused was not subjectively aware that there was no consent, he was wilfully blind to the lack of consent. The culpability of wilful blindness is the accused’s refusal to inquire whether the complainant was consenting, when he was aware of the need for some inquiry, but decided not to inquire because he did not want to know the truth. Because the appellant was willfully blind to the consent of the complainant, the defense of mistake of fact cannot apply.

RatioEdit

The defense of mistake of fact does not apply in a sexual assault case where the accused was wilfully blind to the lack of consent

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