R v Coates [2008] 1 Cr App R 52

Rape – Consent – Intoxication – Oral Statements – Inconsistent Evidence – Admissibility of Evidence – s119 Criminal Justice Act 2003s120(4)(b) Criminal Justice Act 2003


The defendant was a senior naval rating at the time of the incident and the complainant was a naval medical assistant, both working aboard a ship. They worked closely as professionals, but there was no indication of any other relationship. There was a barbeque on the quarterdeck; both the defendant and complainant had consumed alcohol. There was a brief exchange between them, where the complainant gave the defendant a kiss on the cheek. They later had sexual intercourse. The complainant could not recall the events or making statements, but these statements taken afterwards were used as evidence for alleged rape. He admitted intercourse took place, but said it was consensual. Convicted of rape.


The conviction was appealed and the defendant wished to address the admissibility of one of the statements the complainant gave after the incident, as it was inconsistent with her testimony. This was under s119 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Thus, the defendant argued that it was not admissible under s120(4)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.


The conviction was quashed and the Court said it was unsafe. It was concluded that the first statement of the complainant ‘should not have been treated as admissible evidence sufficient to form the basis for a conviction for rape disavowed by the complainant herself’ [42].  It was viewed as unreliable. The Court also believed that the directions given to the Board were not as ‘full and complete’ [44] as they should have been regarding the evidence and testimony.