Law Report: Attempted rape came within definition of 'sexual offence': Regina v Robinson - Court of Appeal (Criminal Divisional) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth, Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Potts and Mr Justice Judge), 27 November 1992

Attempted rape under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 is a 'sexual offence' within section 31(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant's appeal against sentence.

The appellant, now aged 17, was sentenced to eight years' in a young offender institution for the attempted rape of a 87-year-old widow. He was aged 16 when convicted. He appealed on the grounds that attempted rape was not a 'sexual offence' and the offence was not a 'violent offence' within section 31(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.

Andrew Robertson (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Jeremy Richardson (CPS) as amicus curiae.

LORD TAYLOR CJ, giving the judgment of the court, said that the attempted rape was charged under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, which was omitted from the narrow statutory definition of 'sexual offence' in section 31(1). Section 37 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 provided for the prosecution and punishment of rape and attempted rape. Attempt to commit rape was treated in exactly the same way as the full offence of rape. Attempted rape was an offence under the 1956 Act for the purpose of specifying the court's statutory powers of sentence.

Although the offence was indicted under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, it was properly regarded as an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. In those circumstances attempted rape came within the definition of 'sexual offence' for the purposes of the 1991 Act.

The broad definition of 'violent offence' in section 31(10 did not include psychological harm or any requirement that physical injury should be serious. The victim here suffered actual physical injury as a direct result of the offence. It was therefore a violent offence.

The appellant was liable to be sentenced under section 53(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. The jurisdiction of the court was not limited to a maximum 12 months' detention under section 63 of and Schedules 8 and 12 to the 1991 Act. The sentence was right.

Ying Hui Tan, Barrister

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