R v Ferriter (Maurice) – Case Summary

R v Ferriter (Maurice)

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2012] EWCA Crim 2211.


The defendant was drinking at a pub where the complainant was a barmaid. When all other customers had left the establishment and no other staff were present, he refused to leave and began to fight her. The complainant ended up on the floor with the defendant on top of her. During this time, the defendant tried to put his hand down her trousers. She managed to break free and escaped.

The defendant was convicted of attempted rape. He appealed on two grounds. The first was that he had not done any act which was more than merely preparatory. The second was that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to assume that he intended to rape the complainant, as opposed to having an intent to commit sexual assault.

  1. Had the defendant done a more than merely preparatory act?
  2. Was there evidence that he intended to rape the complainant, as opposed to intending to sexually assault her instead?

The Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and substituted a conviction for sexual assault. There was no specific evidence making clear that the defendant intended to rape the complainant, as opposed to committing some other sexual offence. Had this not been the case, however, the Court of Appeal concluded that his actions would have been more than merely preparatory.

This Case is Authority For…

When prosecuting an attempt, the prosecution must prove that the defendant specifically intended to commit that offence, and not some other offence.


The Court of Appeal noted that when instructing the jury on the meaning of an ‘attempt’,

‘it is often helpful to invite the jury to consider whether the defendant has done an act which shows that he has actually tried to commit the offence in question, or whether he has only got ready or put himself into a position or equipped himself to do so in future.’