Circumstantial case

A circumstantial case is a case where the accused’s guilt on a particular element of the offending is to be inferred.

A circumstantial case is a case where the accused’s guilt on a particular element of the offending is to be inferred. Putting this another way, it is a case where the question the turns not on whether witnesses are to be accepted, but rather on whether, given all the evidence in the case, the only reasonable conclusion is that the accused is guilty.

These directions are really no more than a restating of the standard onus borne by the Crown, but reframed to focus the jury on disproving any alternative, rather than proving the positive case directly.

Chamberlain confirms that it is not necessary that any fact that forms part of the factual matrix be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Rather, all the evidence is considered as a whole to decide whether the case is proved to the requisite standard.

Whilst any hypothesis consistent with innocence needs to be disproved beyond a reasonable doubt, Baden-Clay stands for the proposition that a hypothesis that is directly contrary to the way in which the respondent's counsel conducted the defence can, on that basis, be put to one side.


 

Peacock

Peacock v R [1911] HCA 66

 

“It is the practice of Judges, whether they are bound to give such a direction or not, to tell the jury that, if there is any reasonable hypothesis consistent with the innocence of the prisoner, it is their duty to acquit.”