His Majesty the King v. Private D.T. Vu (40655)

Posted on: 2024-02-12


(Publication ban in case)

In the Court Martial, a military judge acquitted the respondent, Private D.T. Vu, of sexual assault under s. 130 of the National Defence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-5 (“NDA”), that is to say, s. 271 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. It is alleged that the respondent performed a sex act on the complainant who was incapable of consenting to the act by reason of advanced intoxication. The judge concluded that the Crown did not prove part of the actus reus (being a lack of subjective consent) beyond a reasonable doubt.

The appellant Crown appealed to the Court Martial Appeal Court. It submitted that the military judge erred in finding that the prosecution failed to prove a lack of consent or capacity to consent. Its submission rested on the proposition recognized in R. v. J.M.H., 2011 SCC 45, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 197, that the judge committed a legal error by failing to consider the entirety and cumulative effect of the evidence in reaching his conclusion on the issue. A majority of the appeal court (per Bell C.J. and Trotter J.A.) dismissed the appeal. It held the military judge did not err in law in his analysis leading to the respondent’s acquittal. Any findings the military judge made that the majority took issue with were held to have no bearing on the verdict reached. The majority further held that in the event it was incorrect on this point, it would rely upon s. 241 of the NDA, which states that “[n]otwithstanding anything in this Division, the Court Martial Appeal Court may disallow an appeal if, in the opinion of the Court, to be expressed in writing, there has been no substantial miscarriage of justice”. In dissent, McVeigh J.A. would have allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial. In her view, the military judge erred in law by failing to consider all of the evidence cumulatively, which led him to speculate improperly about alternative theories. These errors might have reasonably had a material bearing on the verdict. Further, the military judge erred by relying on improper inferences which, in effect, amounted to an insistence that the complainant’s intoxication had to be corroborated beyond the available evidence in this case.

Argued Date



Criminal law — Armed forces — Military Offences —Sexual Assault — Evidence — Whether the military judge failed to consider all of the evidence cumulatively — Whether the military judge assessed the evidence based on the wrong legal principles.


(Federal) (Criminal) (As of Right) (Publication ban in case)


English Audio


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