R v Devonald (Stephen) – Case Summary

R v Devonald (Stephen)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2008] EWCA Crim 527.


The defendant was a 37-year-old man. His 16-year-old daughter was in a relationship with a boy the same age. The daughter told the defendant that the relationships had broken down. The defendant then assumed the online identity of ‘Cassey’, a 20-year-old woman, and befriended the boy. After developing a relationship with him, the defendant tricked the boy into masturbating on camera. His motive was to punish the boy for mistreating his daughter.

The defendant was charged and convicted of causing another person to engage in sexual activity without consent under s.4(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the boy had consented to sexual activity. In particular he argued that the judge had incorrectly directed the jury on the application of s.76 of the Act, which conclusively presumes that consent (and reasonable belief in consent) is absent if:

(a)  the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act; [or] (b)  the defendant intentionally induced the complainant to consent to the relevant act by impersonating a person known personally to the complainant.”

  1. Did the boy provide valid consent to masturbating on camera?

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. It was open to the jury to find that due to the deception, the boy had not provided valid consent to the sexual activity. This was because he was fooled as to the ‘purpose’ of the activity. He believed he was doing the act for another’s sexual gratification, which was not true.

This Case is Authority For…

s.76(a) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 does not only apply where the complainant is fooled into believing the activity is not sexual. It can apply where the complainant thinks he is sexually gratifying a person, when in fact the defendant is merely seeking to humiliated him.