The credibility of every witness who testifies before the courts, and reliability of their evidence must of course be carefully assessed but assessed using common sense that takes into account the age of the witness when the alleged events occurred and the age of the witness when testifying.

Since children may experience the world differently from adults, it is hardly surprising that details important to adults, like time and place, may be missing from their recollection. 

             R. v. W. (R.), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122.

Generally, where an adult testifies about events that occurred when she was a child, her credibility should be assessed according to the criteria applicable to adult witnesses.

R. v. W. (R.), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122.

Yet with regard to her evidence pertaining to events which occurred in childhood, the presence of inconsistencies, particularly as to peripheral matters such as time and location, should be considered in the context of the age of the witness at the time of the events to which she is testifying.

R. v. W. (R.), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 122; R. v. A.M., 2014 ONCA 769 (CanLII), at para. 11.

A “central inconsistency” in the testimony of an adult witness about a childhood event, however, cannot be approached with the “same latitude as a peripheral inconsistency.


The issue of the reliability of a complainant’s evidence is heightened where the complainant testifies to events she alleges occurred several decades before, when she was a young child.

R. v. A.N., 2017 ONCA 647 (CanLII), at para. 17 [alleged incidents occurring 33 years prior].