R v H (Karl Anthony)
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Crim 732.
The complainant was walking her dog at night. She was approached by the defendant, who asked her if she ‘fancied a shag’, but ignored him and carried on walking. The defendant followed her, and grabbed her tracksuit bottom by the back pocket. The complainant was able to break free and run away.
The defendant was convicted of sexual assault. He appealed, arguing that he had not ‘touched’ the complainant (merely her clothes) and that his touching was not sexual.
- Does touching a person’s worn clothes count as touching a person?
- When is touching ‘sexual’?
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. The defendant touched the complainant by touching her clothes while she was wearing them. There was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the touching was sexual, particularly in light of what the defendant had said to the complainant prior to touching her.
This Case is Authority For…
A defendant ‘touches’ a person for the purposes of sexual assault if he touches the clothes they are wearing.
An act is ‘sexual’ if:
- A reasonable person would consider the act inherently and unambiguously sexual by nature; or
- A reasonable person would consider that the act, by its nature, might be sexual (but is not unambiguously so) and due to the circumstances or purposes of any person involved, it is in fact sexual.