R v Grewal [2010] EWCA Crim 2448

Attempted Rape – Intoxication – Consent – s1(2) Sexual Offences Act 2003 – Reasonable Belief – Voluntary Intoxication Does Not Negate Mens Rea Principle


At the time of the incident, the defendant was a student who had become drunk after drinking too many free cocktails at a birthday party. After visiting a nightclub, he returned to halls of residence with the complainant. They were alone together in a bedroom when the defendant tried to engage in sexual activity with the complainant. The complainant cried out for help and a friend intervened. During the incident, the defendant claimed he could not remember the acts that took place. The defendant was charged with attempted rape under s1 Sexual Offences Act 2003.


The defendant was convicted of sexual assault and appealed. The Court of Appeal was to consider the direction of the trial judge and whether it was correct. There had been a distinction by the judge between the defendant’s honest belief to consent, which had taken into account his intoxication and whether this belief was reasonable.


The Court of Appeal stated that voluntary intoxication should not be considered as a ‘circumstance’ for assessing whether a belief is reasonable under s1(2) Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Court stated that when deciding whether the defendant reasonably believed the complainant consented, ‘one has to look at the matter as if he were sober’ [30]. This case established the principle that voluntary intoxication does not negate mens rea for rape and it should not be taken into consideration when looking at reasonableness.