R v Collins
R v Collins 1973 QB 100
Case citation
Case citation is the system used in many countries to identify the decisions in past court cases, either in special series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a 'neutral' form which will identify a decision wherever it was reported...

 is a case decided by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

 which examined the meaning of "enters as a trespass
Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.Trespass to the person, historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem, and maiming...

er" in the definition of burglary
Burglary is a crime, the essence of which is illicit entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offense. Usually that offense will be theft, but most jurisdictions specify others which fall within the ambit of burglary...

. Collins was a 19 year old man who had been convicted of burglary with intent to commit rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and sentenced to a term of imprisonment.


The alleged victim was a young woman, X, who after an evening's drinking, had gone to bed. Collins, likewise, had taken a quantity of drink and was desirous of sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

. He went to X's house hoping to have sex with her. Having climbed up a ladder, peered into X'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 X 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
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

Assize or Assizes may refer to:Assize or Assizes may refer to:Assize or Assizes may refer to::;in common law countries :::*assizes , an obsolete judicial inquest...

 and convicted. He was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment and appealed against conviction.


Collins' barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 submitted during the trial that because X had invited him into her bedroom, even under a mistake of fact, Collins had not "entered as a trespasser". The judge rejected this submission. There had been an issue as to where exactly Collins had been at the time of X'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.
Having examined these opinions, the court ruled that the person entering
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 and X's occupancy status 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.
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