John Beattie v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Ontario) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law - Offences, Interpretation.


Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

The Applicant Beattie was charged with possession of child pornography in the form of written material, contrary to s. 163.1(4) of the Criminal Code. The written material consisted of stories, downloaded from the internet and printed out. These stories described sexual activities between adults and persons under the age of eighteen.

Beattie was acquitted on the basis that the stories did not meet the statutory definition of child pornography, as set out in R. v. Sharpe, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 45. The Crown appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The appeal was allowed and a new trial ordered. Laskin J.A., writing for the Court, concluded that the trial judge was obliged to consider whether the two messages sent by the stories "implicitly send the further message that ‘sex with children can and should be pursued,' and therefore actively encourage criminal sexual activity." The failure of the trial judge to do so was an error of law.