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B v DPP [2000] 2 AC 428 House of Lords

A boy aged 14 was charged with an offence of inciting a child under 14 to commit an act of gross indecency, contrary to section 1(1) of the Indecency with Children Act 1960. He had sat next to a 13 year old girl on a bus and repeatedly asked her to perform oral sex with him. She refused. The boy believed the girl was over 14. The question for the court was whether the offence under s.1(1) was of strict liability in relation to the age of the victim.


The House of Lords held that R v Prince did not lay down a rule that all offences relating to age of the victim were outside consideration of the general presumption in favour of mens rea. Moreover, the law had moved on since this decision favouring an honest belief of the defendant which was not dependent upon the belief being reasonable. Where a charge was a true crime of gravity, the stronger the presumption of mens rea. The defendant's conviction was quashed.
Back to lecture outline on strict liability in Criminal Law