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.)

Other Questions


What is the current state of the law in Canada when it comes to rationalizing the subjective evidence of the parties' intentions with objective evidence? (British Columbia, Canada)
What is the impact of the evidence of the complainant's defence against the Complainant on the allegation of sexual assault? (British Columbia, Canada)
Is a witness’s evidence considered in the context of the totality of the evidence? (Ontario, Canada)
If the evidence the Respondent submitted was to add details of conversations and was not intended or capable or capable of raising any adverse impli­cations regarding the credibility of the complainant, is it admissible evidence? (Ontario, Canada)
If a court accepts the records of a testatrix as proof of her mental state, is there any evidence that she was in a state of distress? (Manitoba, Canada)
Can finger print evidence be considered in an appeal? (British Columbia, Canada)
Does inadmissible evidence have to be considered on appeal? (British Columbia, Canada)
Is defence evidence that strikes directly at the reliability of the requesting state’s materials admissible at the extradition hearing? (British Columbia, Canada)
Can evidence that is not in the form of a written agreement be considered to prove otherwise? (Alberta, Canada)
How have the courts treated the credibility of the complainant's evidence in a sexual assault trial? (Ontario, Canada)