R v Kingston [1994] 3 WLR 519

Criminal law - Mens rea - Involuntary Intoxication


Barry Kingston was involuntarily drugged by a friend. While Kingston was intoxicated, his friend encouraged him to perform sexual acts on a 15 year old boy. The incident had been a set up by his friend. Kingston was convicted of indecent assault. Kingston’s defence was that if he had not been drugged, he would not have acted the way he did.


Whether the necessary intent was present when the act was committed by Kingston, even when the defence of involuntary intoxication is available.


The Court found that although the drugs had essentially done away with Kingston’s inhibitions, this did not negative the necessary mental element which was found to be present in Kingston’s conduct. Further, if an intention arose in circumstances for which Kingston had no blame, it is still an unlawful intent that does not warrant an acquittal. The principle in R v Majewski [1977] A.C. 443 was applied in that a crime of specific intent requires something more than contemplation of the prohibited act and foresight of the probably consequences. If a person becomes so intoxicated that he becomes “legless” and commits a crime, it is a defence to a crime of specific intent but not basic intent, as he is still somewhat aware of himself and therefore liable.  Kingston was found to be aware that his conduct was wrong as he would not have done it if he was not intoxicated. Involuntary intoxication in circumstances where Kingston was found to have possessed the necessary intent needed to commit the crime, was not enough to negative the mens rea element. The appeal was allowed and the conviction was reinstated.