People (Attorney General) v Kearns

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date01 January 1949
Date01 January 1949
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal

Court of Criminal Appeal.

The People (Attorney General) v. Kearns.
THE PEOPLE (at the suit of the Attorney General)
and
CHRISTOPHER KEARNS (1)

Criminal law - Sentence - Offence of unlawful carnal knowledge of girl under the age of fifteen years - Plea in mitigation of sentence - Accused's belief as to age of girl - Evidence - Admissibility.

Criminal Appeal.

This was an application for leave to appeal against sentence of two years' imprisonment with hard labour which had been imposed upon the accused by the Circuit Court Judge (Judge Fawsitt) at Wicklow Circuit Court on a charge of having unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of fifteen years.

The accused pleaded guilty, and counsel on his behalf proposed to cross-examine one of the witnesses, a Superintendent of the Civic Guards, as to the girl's appearance and as to whether she appeared to be more than seventeen years of age, contending that the proposed evidence was relevant to the question of the state of mind of the accused at the time the offence was committed. The trial Judge, on the ground that it was related only to matters of defence which did not arise on the accused's plea of guilty, refused to admit the proposed evidence. He also refused to admit evidence by the accused himself directed to showing that at the time of the commission of the offence the accused had been led by the girl's appearance to believe that she was over the age of seventeen years.

The main grounds of the application for leave to appeal were 1, that the trial Judge in determining the sentence to be imposed upon the accused ought to have taken into consideration the apparent age of the girl and the opportunity given to the accused to become aware of her true age; 2, that the trial Judge misdirected himself in law in excluding evidence of the apparent age of the girl, the opportunity

given to the accused to judge her true age, and the belief of the accused that she was over seventeen years of age; and 3, that the sentence was excessive.

The accused was charged with unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under fifteen years of age; he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. On his plea in mitigation of sentence, the trial Judge refused to admit evidence by the accused that, at the time of the commission of the offence, the appearance of the girl led him to believe that she was over seventeen years of age, and further evidence directed to showing that there...

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3 cases
  • DPP v Cunningham
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 8 Octubre 2002
    ...This, he says, is borne out by a consideration of the jurisprudence of the Court of Criminal Appeal in such cases as ThePeople v. Kearns [1949] IR 385 and equally in the cases on fresh evidence in civil appeals such as Lynagh v. Macklin [1970] 82In relation to evidence of matters arising ......
  • DPP v D.M.
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 13 Mayo 2019
    ...both parties are in the same group.’ 61 He suggests that such principle might be inferred from The People (Attorney General) v. Kearns [1949] IR 385 ‘although the issue in that case was mistake as to 62 In the present case, the appellant argues that there was a degree of consent by the com......
  • The People (At the Suit of the DPP) v J.McD.
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 8 Febrero 2021
    ...same age group”. Mr O'Malley contends that such a principle may be inferred from the decision in The People (Attorney General) v Kearns [1949] I.R. 385. He goes on to say: “Courts in other jurisdictions have accepted that the complainant's age is an important factor in deciding how much, if......

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