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R v Kingston [1994] 3 WLR 519 House of Lords

Kingston had a business dispute with a couple. They employed Penn to gain some damaging information on Kingston in order to blackmail him. Kingston was homosexual with paedophiliac predilections. Penn invited a 15 year old boy to his room and gave him a soporific drug in his drink. The boy remembers nothing from the time of sitting drinking the drink on Penn's bed until waking the next morning. Penn then invited Kingston to the room and drugged his drink without his knowledge. Penn and Kingston then both engaged in gross sexual acts with the unconscious boy. Penn recorded the events and took photographs. Kingston was charged with indecent assault on a youth. At his trial the judge directed the jury:

"In deciding whether Kingston intended to commit this offence, you must take into account any findings that you may make that he was affected by drugs. If you think that because he was so affected by drugs he did not intend or may not have intended to commit an indecent assault upon [D.C.], then you must acquit him; but if you are sure that despite the effect of any drugs that he might have been slipped - and it is for you to find whether he was drugged or not - this part of the case is proved, because a drugged intent is still an intent. So intention is crucial, intention at the time; and, of course, members of the jury, you will bear in mind there is a distinction between intention at the time and a lack of memory as to what happened after the time. "

The jury convicted him and he appealed to the Court of Appeal where his conviction was quashed.

Lord Taylor CJ:

"However, the purpose of the criminal law is to inhibit, by proscription and by penal sanction, anti-social acts which individuals may otherwise commit. Its unspoken premise is that people may have tendencies and impulses to do those things which are considered sufficiently objectionable to be forbidden. Having paedophiliac inclinations and desires is not proscribed; putting them into practice is. If the sole reason why the threshold between the two has been crossed is or may have been that the inhibition which the law requires has been removed by the clandestine act of a third party, the purposes of the criminal law are not served by nevertheless holding that the person performing the act is guilty of an offence. A man is not responsible for a condition produced 'by stratagem, or the fraud of another."

The prosecution appealed to the Lords.


Appeal allowed. There is no principle of English law which allows a defence based on involuntary intoxication where the defendant is found to have the necessary mens rea for the crime. The prosecution had established the defendant had the necessary intent for the crime - a drunken intent is still an intent.
Back to lecture outline on intoxication and criminal liability