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Robbery

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Section 8(1) of the Theft Act 1968

Robbery adds to the definition of theft the use of force or threat of force from D. Sometimes referred to as aggravated theft.

 

"A person is guilty of robbery if he steals and

immediately before or

at the time of doing so,

and in order to do so,

he uses force on any person or

puts or

seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force."

  • Maximum life imprisonment

  • Indictable only, alternative verdict = theft

  • Alternative charge = assault with intent to rob.

  • Logically it is not possible to charge an attempted robbery – there must be a theft.

Assault with intent to rob. Section 8(2)

"A person guilty of robbery, or of an assault with intent to rob, shall on conviction on indictment be liable to life imprisonment."

Actus reus = 3 Main elements

Same as theft plus force.

(a) Stealing;

(b) Using force; or

(c) Fear, of force being used.

Mens rea = same as theft

Steals

There must be a theft

Without a theft there cannot be a robbery

Robinson (1977) CA

All the elements required for section 1(1) theft are necessary to prove robbery.

So, where defendant honestly believed he was entitled to property – held not to be robbery. 

Corcoran v Anderton (1980) QBD

The defendants wrestled with the owner for possession of a handbag. They ran off without the bag, but they had caused her lose possession this was an appropriation, therefore a theft had occurred

Actus reus

Immediately before or at the Time of Stealing.

Theft is a continuing offence.

But, courts are flexible.

To interpret this literally would have a limiting effect on the scope of the section. Undoubtedly bank robbers who threaten people with force to make good their 'get a way' use force 'afterwards', but are still robbers – the theft is continuing.

Hale (1978) CA

Force was used to stop a woman raising the alarm while her jewellery box was being stolen. A substantial part of the force took place when the box was in the thieves' possession. Therefore, violence may come after the act of theft.

Guilty

Lockley (1995)

Stopped leaving an off-licence by shopkeeper, assaulted him to escape. Hale applied, Gomez not relevant.

Guilty

And in order to do so.

Theft from a disabled victim after a fight would not be robbery

Actus reus

  • Uses force on any person or

  • Puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being

  • Then and there subjected to force.

There must be force (not violence, nor necessarily an assault)

More is needed than to take the property from a passive victim as in snatching a handbag from an unsuspecting victim.

 

More is needing than the force used to pick a pocket.

 

But amount of force can be quiet slight, e.g. a nudge causing V to lose balance.

 

The force must be against a person so this could not include a dog.

 

Applying force to the property being taken (the shopping bag in the case of Clouden) is applying force to the person who is resisting.

 

Resisting or unresisting victim

The distinction between a victim who resisted having his property taken (for example snatching a handbag) used to be important, but it is not now, it is up to the jury to decide if the 'snatching' amounts to force.

Snatching of property, such as a handbag from an unresisting owner would constitute force (Clouden), despite the CLRC expressed belief to the contrary.

Blind victim?

Need not be aware of force, requirement includes seeking to put V in fear

Clouden (1987)

The complainant need not 'fight back'; overcoming resistance counts as force for Section 8. So snatching a handbag can be robbery.

Jury to decide on ‘force’.

The proof of use or threat of use of force must be established. This should generally be left to the jury. Even the merest use of force is necessary.

Dawson (1977) CA

Whether force used or threatened is for jury to decide. Standing around and nudging a victim could be force.

Smith v Desmond (1965) HL

Force can be used or threatened against any person, not just the owner of the property stolen.

 

Bank robbers for example might tie up customers to stop them raising the alarm, but have no interest in taking their personal property.

 

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