R v B
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Crim 3;  1 Cr App R 36.
The defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. His disorder gave him delusions that he had the ability to heal people through sex. He had sex with the complainant without her consent while suffering from one of these delusions. There was evidence that he did this thinking that sex would be good for her, regardless of whether she consented or not.
The defendant was charged with rape. The trial judge directed the jury that they should disregard his mental illness when determining whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the complainant was consenting. The jury convicted.
- Was the defendant’s mental illness relevant to whether he had a reasonable belief that the complainant was consenting?
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The evidence showed that the defendant’s disorder did not stop him from understanding that the claimant was not consenting. In any case, his delusional belief was by definition irrational and unreasonable. It was therefore irrelevant to whether he had a ‘reasonable’ belief in consent.
This Case is Authority For…
The fact that the defendant is suffering from delusions is to be disregarded when determining whether he had a reasonable belief in consent.
The Court of Appeal noted that there may be cases in which the defendant’s mental illness or unusual characteristics are relevant when assessing whether he has a reasonable belief in consent. One example they gave was where the reasonableness of a belief turns on the defendant’s ability to read subtle social signs. In such a case, the fact that the defendant’s ability is impaired by a condition such as autism might be relevant.