Can the demeanour and emotional state of the complainant be considered as corroborative evidence?

Saskatchewan, Canada

The following excerpt is from R. v. Pelletier, 1973 CanLII 886 (SK CA):

The argument is that the demeanour and physical and emotional state of the complainant could not be looked to as possible corroborative evidence because they were part of the complaint, as held in Regina v. Lillyman, [1896] 2 Q.B. 167.

The importance of the Lillyman case is that it permits the prosecutrix in a rape case to give full details of her complaint, including her condition, demeanour and verbal expressions. But it does not deal with anything except the complaint. It does not say that evidence of her condition, demeanour and verbal expressions cannot be proved by independent evidence because clearly they can. Of course the jury cannot look to such evidence given by the complainant in her complaint for corroboration because it is not independent evidence and she cannot corroborate herself. But to the extent that such evidence is proved independently of the complaint, to that extent it may be the source of corroboration, provided that the judge makes the distinction clear and instructs the jury: “... that facts, though independently established, could not amount to corroboration if, in the view of the jury, they were equally consistent with the truth as with the falsity of her story on this point.” (Thomas v. The Queen, 1952 CanLII 7 (SCC), [1952] 2 S.C.R. 344 at 354, 15 C.R. 1, 103 C.C.C. 193, [1952] 4 D.L.R. 306.)

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