Reeves v The Queen

The High Court has partly allowed an appeal against a decision of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, and remitted the matter to the NSWCCA for further consideration. Reeves, a gynaecologist, was convicted of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, after he performed an operation on the complainant’s vagina to remove a cancerous lesion, but went further and removed the entire vulva and clitoris. That extent of removal was not discussed with the complainant, and unanimous expert medical opinion at trial indicated that removing the vulva and clitoris was unwarranted. The Court dismissed the applicant’s argument that the wrong standard of consent was given by the trial judge. The trial judge did err in using the phrase ‘nature and full extent of the procedure’, and should have used the corrects standard of being informed ‘in broad terms of the nature of the procedure’, however the High Court agreed with the NSWCCA that no substantial miscarriage of justice followed from the misdirection. The Court did allow an appeal against the sentence on the grounds that the NSWCCA erred in exercising its ‘residual discretion’ (the discretion to decline to interfere with a sentence). The NSWCCA did not mention or consider the applicant’s argument that the decline in his health and the imminence of the expiration of his non-parole period justified dismissing the DPP’s appeal against sentence, and the matter has been remitted to the NSWCCA to make consider the applicant’s arguments on the residual discretion question.

High Court Judgment [2013] HCA 57 18 December 2013
Result Appeal against conviction dismissed, sentencing appeal allowed in part, matter remitted
High Court Documents Reeves v The Queen
Full Court Hearing [2013] HCATrans 258  29 October 2013
Special Leave Hearing [2013] HCATrans 143  7 June 2013
Appeal from NSWCCA [2013] NSWCCA 34 21 February 2013
NSWDC Trial Judgment Case No 2008/77882 1 July 2011
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About Martin Clark

Martin Clark is a PhD Candidate and Judge Dame Rosalyn Higgins Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Research Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He holds honours degrees in law, history and philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and an MPhil in Law from MLS. While at MLS, he worked as a researcher for several senior faculty members, was a 2012 Editor of the Melbourne Journal of International Law, tutor at MLS and various colleges, a Jessie Legatt Scholar, and attended the Center for Transnational Legal Studies Program.