R v McNally [2013]

R v McNally [2013] EWCA Crim 1051 is a notable English criminal case where the Court of Appeals addressed the complex issue of rape by deception or gender deception under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The case involved Justine McNally, a Scottish student, who was convicted of six counts of sexual assault by penetration.

McNally and the victim, referred to as M, initially met on an online gaming site when they were both teenagers. Over three and a half years, their internet relationship developed and became sexual. McNally, pretending to be a boy named Scott, engaged in sexual activities with M during their online interactions.

When they met in person after M turned 16, McNally continued to present as a boy, wearing a prosthetic and using the name Scott. The sexual relationship continued during in-person meetings, with McNally declining certain activities. Eventually, M's mother discovered McNally's true identity, and M learned about the deception, leading to a complaint to the police.

In 2012, McNally pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual assault by penetration under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The court sentenced McNally to three years of detention on each count, with a three-year restraining order prohibiting contact with M or her mother.

McNally appealed the convictions and the three-year sentence, challenging all six counts of assault by penetration. The Court of Appeal upheld the convictions but reduced McNally's sentence from three years to nine months with a two-year suspension.

Lord Justice Leveson examined previous applications of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to justify McNally's convictions. The court considered the issue of gender deception and its impact on the validity of consent.

This case was one of the early cases that explore the concept of gender deception in the context of sexual offences. The court ruled that deception about one's gender could vitiate consent, distinguishing it from cases involving HIV-AIDS status. This decision had implications for subsequent cases where individuals were accused of misleading partners about their gender identity.

However, the decision has been criticised for undermining the privacy rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Dissenters questioned whether the expectation that genitals correspond to gender identification should be legally actionable.

Nevertheless, the case opened up discussions about legal discrimination against transgender individuals in sexual assault and rape laws. Critics argued that the framing of the case as gender fraud could compromise the dignity and equality of transgender people.

In conclusion, the decision of this case sparked debates on the intersection of law, gender identity, and sexual autonomy, shaping subsequent legal discussions on cases involving gender deception and its impact on consent.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.