Attorney General v O'Sullivan

Judgment Date26 May 1930
Date26 May 1930
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal (Irish Free State)
[C. C. A., I.F.S.]

Complainant aged 10 years - Sworn testimony - Necessity of preliminary examination as to competency - Corroboration - Instructions to jury - Attack on character in cross-examination - Admissibility of evidence of general good character - Form of evidence -Inconsistency of findings - Children Act, 1908 (8 Edw. 7, c. 67), ss. 30, 131 - Criminal Justice Administration Act, 1914 (4 5 Geo. 5, c. 58), s. 28 (2).

The appellant was convicted of an attempt to commit sodomy. He was found "not guilty" on a second count of indecent assault on a male person, and, on a third count of common assault, no finding was entered. The complainant, a boy of 10 years, gave sworn testimony. The appellant applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal. The appellant contended that the complainant, being a child under the age of 14 years, should not have been allowed to give evidence without preliminary examination as to his competence to give evidence on oath; that there was not sufficient corroboration of the boy's story, and the jury were not warned as to the necessity for corroboration; that evidence was inadmissible to establish the general good character of the boy, and that the form of the evidence allowed was improper; and that the findings were inconsistent. Held, that the purpose of s. 30 of the Children Act, 1908, was to enable a child "of tender years" (age not defined by the statute) who does not, in the opinion of the Court, understand the nature of an oath, to give evidence not upon oath if, in the opinion of the Court, the child has sufficient intelligence to justify the reception of the evidence and understands the duty of speaking the truth. The section did not alter the previous law as to the reception of the evidence of children given on oath, which was and is a question, not of age, but of the intelligence and actual mental capacity of the child witness, his sense and reason of the danger and impiety of falsehood. Strictly speaking, the objection to the reception of the child's evidence on oath should be taken, and the witness interrogated by the Court, on the vraie dire, but the practice became established that the objection might be taken on facts elicited (after the person was sworn as witness) during the direct examination or even during the...

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11 cases
  • DPP v Mulvey
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 16 d1 Março d1 1987
    ...danger of convicting in the absence of corroboration. Attorney Gerneral v. CraddenIR [1955] I.R. 130; Attorney General v. O'SullivanIR [1930] I.R. 552 and Reg. v. KnightWLR [1966] 1 W.L.R. 230 followed. 3. That in the instant case the jury was told of its role in assessing what was corrobor......
  • Southern Health Board v CH
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 11 d1 Março d1 1996 if the Act of 1908 had not been affected by the Act of 1991. Cases referred to in this report:— Attorney General v. O'Sullivan [1930] I.R. 552; (1930) 64 I.L.T.R. 181. In re P.B., a minor [1986] N.T. 88. Bradford City Metropolitan Council v. K. [1990] 2 W.L.R. 532. Director of Public Pro......
  • The People (at the suit of the DPP) v Brian Shaughnessey
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 23 d2 Março d2 2021
    ...of a circumstance as corroboration thus: Circumstantial evidence may be corroborative evidence. Thus in Attorney-General v O'Sullivan [1930] IR 552, the court was of the opinion, having considered the evidence, that there was a body of circumstantial evidence of a material kind which suppor......
  • DPP v Gilligan
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 23 d3 Novembro d3 2005
    ...DENTAL BOARD v O'CALLAGHAN 1969 IR 181 R v BASKERVILLE 1916 2 KB 658 AG v LEVISON 1932 IR 158 R v KILBOURNE 1973 AC 729 AG v O'SULLIVAN 1930 IR 552 R v HESTER 1973 AC 295 AG OF HONG KONG v WONG MUK PING 1987 1 AC 501 PEOPLE v TRAYERS 1956 IR 110 AG v O'BRIEN 1965 IR 142 MCCORMACK, STAT......
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