R v Jheeta [2007]

R v Jheeta [2007]

R v Jheeta [2007] EWCA Crim 1699, [2008] Crim LR 144 addressed a crucial issue related to deception and consent under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The central question was whether deception about a threatening situation fell within the scope of 'nature and purpose' as defined in Section 76 of the Act.

The facts of the case involved a sexual relationship between Jheeta (the defendant) and the victim. After the victim terminated the relationship, Jheeta resorted to deceit by pretending to be police officers through text messages. These messages demanded that the victim engage in sexual intercourse with Jheeta, threatening her with a fine if she refused. Jheeta was charged with rape, leading to the appeal.

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, determining that although the conclusive presumption in Section 76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 did not apply, the victim did not consent within the meaning of Section 74 of the Act.

Judge LJ emphasised that Section 76 establishes conclusive presumptions that necessitate rigorous scrutiny. Furthermore, it was clarified that Section 76(2)(a) applied exclusively to deception about the nature or purpose of intercourse. The court specified that no conclusive presumption would arise when the complainant is deceived in some other way, such as through 'disingenuous blandishments' or common lies.

In the specific circumstances of the case, the court found that the victim was deceived not about the nature or purpose of the act of intercourse but about the threatening situation in which she found herself. Despite the absence of the conclusive presumption under Section 76, the court concluded that the victim had not consented to intercourse within the meaning of Section 74, and Jheeta was aware of her non-consent.

This decision highlights the court's careful interpretation of the statutory provisions and the distinction between deception regarding the nature or purpose of intercourse and deception about the surrounding circumstances. It underscores the significance of scrutinising the specific elements of deception in cases involving sexual offences to determine the impact on the validity of consent.
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