Supreme Court to hear leapfrog appeal in ‘reasonable mistake’ child sex case

Supreme Court to hear leapfrog appeal in 'reasonable mistake' child sex case

The Supreme Court has granted permission for a leapfrog appeal by the State in a case concerning the burden of proof for the “reasonable mistake” defence in child sexual offence cases.

The High Court last summer ruled that a legislative provision requiring a defendant to prove on the balance of probabilities that he was mistaken about the age of a child victim is unconstitutional.

The challenge was brought by a plaintiff who was jailed for engaging in a sexual act with a child below the age of 17. At the time, the plaintiff was 19 years and four months old and the victim was 15 years and 10 months old.

Ms Justice Siobhan Stack concluded that section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 was contrary to Article 38.1 of the Constitution and breached the plaintiff’s right to a fair trial.

The State is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court and the case is likely to be heard in March, according to The Irish Times.

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