His Majesty The King v. Randy William Downes

(British Columbia) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case)


Criminal law — Voyeurism — Elements of the offence — Whether the trial judge erred by failing to consider whether nudity was reasonably expected at the place and at the time where the offence was alleged to have occurred — Whether s. 162(1)(a) of the Criminal Code infringes s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? — If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Charter? — Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 162(1)(a).


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At trial, the respondent, Randy William Downes, was convicted of two counts of voyeurism contrary to s. 162(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46. He was found to have surreptitiously taken photographs of adolescent male hockey players in stages of undress in a dressing room while he was coaching.

A majority of the Court of Appeal (per Willcock J.A. with Grauer J.A. concurring), allowed Mr. Downes’ appeal, set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial. The majority explained that, while it was open to the trial judge to find nudity was expected in the dressing room in which the offences were found to have occurred, the conflicts in evidence regarding whether nudity was expected at the time the photos were taken were not addressed. In dissent, Dickson J.A. would have dismissed the appeal on the basis that the characterization of “a place” under s. 162(1) does not include a temporal use component. In her view, the relevant inquiry was whether the place in which the impugned conduct occurred is a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, regardless of the expected use of that place specifically when the conduct occurred.

Lower Court Rulings

June 14, 2019
Supreme Court of British Columbia

2019 BCSC 992, X080191-A
Conviction for two counts of voyeurism
January 11, 2022
Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver)

2022 BCCA 8, CA46716
Appeal allowed, conviction set aside and new trial ordered