He Kaw Teh v R [1985] HCA 43 | 11 July 1985

ON 11 JULY 1985, the High Court of Australia delivered He Kaw Teh v R [1985] HCA 43; (1985) 157 CLR 523 (11 July 1985).


Even if a statute does not indicate that intent is an element of a grave criminal offence, it is to be presumed that intent is an element to be proved by the prosecution. In cases of possession, knowledge of the goods being in the accused’s custody is a necessary element and therefore knowledge must be proved by the prosecution.

In this case, the accused claimed that he did not know that he was in possession of heroin and therefore did not knowingly bring it into the country in contravention of the Customs Act.

Finding that the provision required proof of knowledge and intent, the court allowed the appeal and remitted the case back to determine the questions of knowledge and intent in accordance with the High Court’s judgment.


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