R v Collins

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For the similarly named Canadian case on exclusion of evidence, see R. v. Collins.
R v Collins
Court Court of Appeal – Criminal Division
Decided 5 May 1972
Citation(s) [1973] QB 100
Cases cited None
Legislation cited Theft Act 1968, Section 9(1)(a)
Case history
Prior action(s) None
Subsequent action(s) None
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Edmund Davies and Stephenson L.JJ. and Boreham J.
Burglary; Trespass

R v Collins 1973 QB 100 is a case decided by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales which examined the meaning of "enters as a trespasser" in the definition of burglary. Collins was a 19 year old man who had been convicted of burglary with intent to commit rape[1] and sentenced to a term of imprisonment.


The alleged victim was a young woman, Phillippa Last, who after an evening's drinking, had gone to bed. Collins, likewise, had taken a quantity of drink and was desirous of sexual intercourse. He went to Last's house hoping to have sex with her. Having climbed up a ladder, peered into Last's bedroom through the window and seen her sleeping, he descended to ground level and undressed except for his socks. He then climbed back up the ladder and was about to enter the bedroom when Last awoke; seeing an almost naked man with an erect penis, she assumed that this was her boyfriend paying her a romantic nocturnal visit and invited Collins to enter. After a little while, she realised that he was not, in fact, her boyfriend, and raised the alarm. Collins was charged with burglary with intent to commit rape, tried at the Essex Assizes and convicted. He was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment and appealed against conviction.


Collins' barrister submitted during the first instance trial that because Last had invited him into her bedroom, even under a mistake of fact, Collins had not "entered as a trespasser". The Assizes judge rejected this submission. There had been an issue as to where exactly Collins had been at the time of Last's mistaken invitation—outside the window on the sill or already inside the bedroom—and the evidence was inconclusive on that point.


The point in issue had not previously been decided so there was no authority on which the court could rely; instead, textbooks were consulted.[2][3][4] Having examined these opinions, the court ruled that the person entering

must do so knowing that he is a trespasser and nevertheless deliberately enters, or, at the very least, is reckless as to whether or not he is entering the premises of another without the other party's consent.

The court considered that on the facts, the judge had misdirected the jury on this test, even though the timing had been unclear. It was also considered obiter that civil law concepts such as trespass ab initio[5] and Last's occupancy status[6] were irrelevant to the criminal law.

Accordingly, the court allowed the appeal on the basis that the jury had never been invited to consider whether in fact Collins was a trespasser when he entered X's bedroom; his conviction was duly quashed.

External links[edit]

Full text of decision


  1. ^ now redefined as trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence under s63 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  2. ^ Archbold's Criminal Pleading Evidence & Practice, 37th Ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell. 1969. p. 1505. 
  3. ^ Smith, J C (1968). The Law of Theft. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 462. 
  4. ^ Griew, Edward (1968). The Theft Act 1968. London: Sweet & Maxwell. pp. 4–05. 
  5. ^ that is, lawful entry on land or premises followed by the commission of an unlawful act renders the entry trespassory (Shorland v Govett 1826 5 B&C 485)
  6. ^ That is, she was neither the freeholder nor a tenant of the premises