R v Bingham [2013]

R v Bingham [2013] EWCA Crim 823, [2013] 2 Cr App R 29 addressed the issue of deception as to purpose and clarified the interpretation of Section 76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The court emphasised the need for a strict interpretation of Section 76, following the precedent set in R v Jheeta [2007] and distinguishing deception as to peripheral matters from deception as to purpose.

Bingham, the defendant, pretending to be other men and threatening his girlfriend that he would email compromising photographs of her to her employers unless she performed sexual acts on webcam. Bingham was charged with causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent. The central issue before the court was whether the conclusive presumption under Section 76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 applied in this case.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, ruling that the conclusive presumption in Section 76 did not apply. Hallett LJ, delivering the judgment, highlighted the importance of a strict interpretation of section 76, as it effectively removes the only line of defence to a criminal charge. The court explicitly stated that if there is any conflict between the decisions in R v Jheeta [2007] and R v Devonald [2008], they would unhesitatingly follow R v Jheeta [2007].

The court concluded that Bingham's purpose had been sexual gratification, and the victim was aware of that. Importantly, the judgment clarified that deception related to a peripheral matter would not amount to deception of purpose under Section 76. However, the prosecution still had a strong case that there was no consent under Section 74 if they could prove that the victim only complied due to being blackmailed.

This decision underscores the court's commitment to a strict interpretation of Section 76 and the need to distinguish between deception as to peripheral matters and deception as to purpose in cases involving sexual offences. It reaffirms the principles established in earlier cases and reinforces the importance of careful legal analysis in matters of consent and deception.
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