- B, a boy aged 15, incited a girl aged 13 to perform oral sex on him during a bus journey
- B claimed that he honestly believed the girl to be over 14
- The boy was convicted of inciting a child under 14 to commit an act of gross indecency, an offence with no mens rea requirement
- Could a mens rea aspect be read into the offence?
- Yes, an honest belief requirement was read into the offence
- A presumption of mens rea will be read into offences
- The Sexual Offences Act 2003 repealed the offence in this case, replacing it with a strict liability offence; however the presumption of a mes rea requirement still remains good law
- Lord Nicholls – the more serious an offence is, the more there is a presumption of the defendant’s guilty mind