Famous cases in English Law 1: R v Collins (1973)
November 29, 2011
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This is true. This is an actual case taught to undergraduates who take criminal law. It is an essential ingredient in understanding the way the courts treat the definition of burglary.
I wonder, if this case were heard now, whether the outcome would be the same.
It is the bit about the socks that most law students remember most vividly.
The defendant was charged with burglary. He had climbed a ladder to an open window where a young woman was sleeping naked in her bed. He descended the ladder, stripped down to his socks and then climbed up again. The woman awoke and saw him at the window. She thought it was her boyfriend and so invited him in. It was not clear, and neither party could recall whether he was inside or outside the window when she invited him in. They proceeded to have sexual intercourse. She then realised it was not her boyfriend and screamed for him to get off. He ran off. The following day he was questioned by the police and charged with burglary under s.9(1)(a) on the grounds that he entered as a trespasser with the intent to commit rape. (He could not be charged with rape as the woman had consented to sexual intercourse). The jury convicted. The defendant appealed on the grounds of a misdirection as the jury had not been asked to consider if he was a trespasser at the time of entry.
His conviction was quashed. It was held that there must be an effective and substantial entry with knowledge or being reckless as to being a trespasser. Consent of the home owner (the girl’s parents) was not required: it was sufficient that the girl had invited him in.
Lord Justice Edmund Davies:
“Unless the jury were entirely satisfied that the Appellant made an effective and substantial entry into the bedroom without the complainant doing or saying anything to cause him to believe that she was consenting to his entering it, he ought not to be convicted of the offence charged.”