MK was convicted of maintaining an ‘unlawful sexual relationship’ with a child13. That term is defined as ‘a relationship in which an adult engages in 2 or more unlawful sexual acts towards a child over any period’. Two earlier cases held that a sexual relationship over and above commission of the offences was needed14.
This was ‘plainly wrong’. Consistent with context, purpose and history, the definition had only one possible meaning – that there was a relationship of some kind (eg teacher and student) within which the offences were committed. There was no miscarriage of justice. Beech-Jones CJ confirmed that statutory context extends to the existing state of the law15.
This principle is from Episode 101 of interpretation NOW!
13 s 66EA(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
14 R v RB  NSWCCA 142, RW v R  NSWCCA 2.