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Cases - theft

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Adams, R v (1993) CA

Anderton_v_Wish_[1980]_DC
Atakpu, R v (1993) CA
Attorney General of Hong Kong v Nai-Keung [1987] PC

Attorney General's Reference (Nos.1 and 2 of 1979) CA

Attorney General’s Reference (No 1 1983) CA

Attorney General's Reference (No 1 1985) CA 
Attorney General’s Reference (No. 2 1982) CA
Boggeln v Williams (1978) QBD
Bonner, R v (1970) CA

Briggs, R v (2003) CA

Chan Man Sin v Attorney General for Hong Kong (1988) PC
Chase Manhattan Bank NA v Israel-British Bank (London) Ltd [1981] CD

Clowes (No 2), R v [1994] CA

Coffey, R v (1987) CA

Corcoran v Whent [1977] DC
Dobson v General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corp (1990) CA

Dunbar, R v [1994] CMAC
Duru, R v [1974] CA
Easom, R v [1971] CA
Eddy v Niman (1981) QBD
Edwards v Ddin [1976] QBD

Feely, R v (1973) CA

Fernandes, R v [1996] CA

Fritschy, R v [1985] CA 
Gallasso, R v (1993) CA

Gardner v Mainsbridge  (1887) QBD
Ghosh, R v [1982] CA
Gilks, R v [1972] CA
Gomez, DPP v [1993] HL

Governor Pentonville Prison ex p Osman, R v (1990) QBD
Greenberg, R v (1972)

Greenstein, R v [1976] CA

Hale, R v (1979) CA

Hall, R v [1972] CA

Hancock, R v [1990] CA

Hibbert v McKiernan (1948) KBD

Hinks, R v (2000) HL

Holden, R v [1991] CA

Huskinson, DPP v [1988] DC
Hussein, R v [1978] CA

J, DPP v [2002] QBD
Kaur v Chief Constable Hants (1981) DC

Kelly, R v  (1998) CA

Kendrick, R v [1997] CA

Klineberg & Marsden, R v [1999] CA
Kohn, R v (1979) CA

Lacis v Cashmarts [1969] DC

Landy, R v (1981) CA

Lavender, DPP v  [1994] DC
Lawrence, R v (1972) HL

Lewis v Lethbridge (1987) QBD
Lightfoot, R v (1993) CA
Lloyd, R v [1985] CA 

Low v Blease (1973) DC

Mainwaring, R v (1982) CA

Marshall, R v (Eren, and Coombes, R v) [1999] CA
Mazo, R v (1997) CA

McIvor, R v  [1982] CA

McPherson, R v (1973) CA

Meech,R v (1974) CA
Meredith,R v (1973) Crown Court Judge John Da Cunha
Monaghan, R v [1979] CA

Morris, R v  and Anderton v Burnside [1984] HL

Navvabi, R v (1986) CA

Ngan,R v [1998] CA
Oxford v Moss (1979) QBD

Parker v British Airways [1982] CA
Philippou, R v (1989) CA

Pilgram v Rice-Smith (1977) DC
Pitham and Hehl, R v  (1977) CA
Preddy, R v [1996] HL

R (on the application of A) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2001] DC

Roberts, R v [1985] CA

Rostron & Collinson, R v CA [2003]
Shadrokh-Cigari, R v [1988] CA

Skipp, R v (1975) CA

Small, R v (1988) CA

Stuart, R v (1982) CA
Turner (1)&(2), R v (1970) CA

Velumyl, R v (1989) CA

Wain, R v [1995] CA
Walkington, R v (1979) CA

Warner, R v  (1970) CA
Waverley BC v Fletcher (1995) CA
Welsh, R v [1974] CA

Wheeler, R v (1990) CA

Williams v Phillips (1957) DC

Williams, R v (1979) CA

Wille, R v (1988) CA

Wills, R v (1991) CA
Woodman, R v (1974) CA

 

Adams, R v (1993) CA

 ^[Theft - later assumption by innocent purchaser not theft – relevance of s 3(2)]
D, a motor cycle enthusiast brought some spare parts for cash. He issued a proper receipt.  He understood they had come from a "write off",  He did not know at the time they had been stolen. A few days later he noticed some of the numbers had been drilled out.

 

Held: The person who buys property in good faith does not commit theft when he subsequently learns that he is not the owner.

Sec 3(2) “where a person had received property for value in good faith, no later assumption by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring would, by reason of a defect in title, amount to theft.”

related to the moment when the receiver purchased for value, not when he decided to keep them.

 

Not guilty

 

Comment: Professor Smith; Law of Theft (6th ed.): even if mens rea existed there was no actus reus.

Anderton v Wish [1980] DC

^[Theft - appropriation - changing price tags is appropriation]

D changed the price tags of an item in a supermarket and bought that item at a lower price.

 

Held: Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounted to appropriation. In changing the price tags the defendant had assumed the rights of an owner and the operation was therefore an appropriation.

 

Guilty

Atakpu, R v (1993) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - consent]
D hired three expensive cars abroad to sell in England. D argued that no appropriation had taken place in England and therefore the case was not triable in England. 

 

Held: Goods once stolen could not be stolen again by the same thief, whether the theft took place in England or abroad. Therefore, the cars were stolen abroad where the appropriation took place.

 

Where a thief came by property by stealing it his later dealings with the property could not be an assumption of rights of an owner

 

Not guilty

Considered in R v Bowden [2002]

Attorney General of Hong Kong v Nai-Keung [1987] PC

[Theft - property - intangible property]

D, a director of a textile company, sold  a large quantity of the company’s export quotas, at well below their proper value, transferring them to another textile company.

 

Held: Export quotas, although not ‘things in action’, were a form of "other intangible property" because such quotas may be freely bought and sold. The definition of ‘property’ in the Theft Act 1968 and the corresponding Hong Kong legislation was intended to have the widest ambit.

Furthermore, the defendant had acted outside the scope of his authority to deal with the company’s quotas and had dishonestly appropriated property belonging to the company.

 

Not guilty but would be now

Considered in Celtic Extraction Ltd (in liquidation), Re [2001]

Attorney General's Reference (Nos.1 and 2 of 1979) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive - conditional intent sufficient if clear on the indictment]

Two conjoined references where burglars had entered without the intention of stealing a specific item.

 

Held: Conditional intent suffices.

 

The court further indicated that in the case of theft-related offences, the indictment need not in appropriate cases specify the items to be stolen, or it may describe the items generically (such as "the contents of a handbag"), provided that the defendant thereby receives adequate details of what he is alleged to have done

 

Per curiam. Plainly it may be undesirable in some cases to frame indictments by reference to the theft or attempted theft of specific objects. There is no reason in principle against more imprecise pleading, if the justice of the case requires it, as for example, attempting to steal some or all the contents of a car or some or all the contents of a handbag.

 

Not guilty but would be now

Attorney General’s Reference (No. 2 1982) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - may be a corporation such as a company]

DD allegedly stole large sums of money (millions of pounds) from companies wholly owned and controlled by them. The judge formed the view that the defendants were the company and therefore could not steal from it.

 

Held: A man in total control of a limited liability company (by reason of his shareholding and directorship) is capable of stealing the property of the company.

 

A company is a legal entity separate from the defendants, albeit that they were its sole shareholders and directors It can own money, things in action and other property. A company cannot go outside the purpose it was set up (ultra vires its Memorandum of Association)

 

The ingredient of dishonesty was always a question for the jury, and since, under section 2(1)(b) of the Theft Act 1968 a defendant's belief that "he would have the other's consent" had to be an honest belief, there was nothing in the subsection which would preclude a jury from convicting.
 

Not guilty, but would be now

Considered in:  R (on the application of A) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2001]

Attorney General’s Reference (No 1 1983) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property  - property does not include a chose in action - transferred by mistake]
D, a policewoman, received an overpayment of her salary, which the MPD paid by direct transfer to her bank account. 

 

Held: D received property by another’s mistake. By s 5(4) Theft Act 1968 she was not under an obligation to make restoration of the property because the property here was a chose in action, which was not capable of being restored. She was obliged to restore the value of the chose in action, providing the transfer of funds was made under a fundamental mistake.

 

Not guilty but would be now

Attorney General's Reference (No 1 1985) CA 

^[Theft - belonging to another - received under an obligation - not applicable if remedy is in civil law] 
D sold his own beer in the pub he managed. He was contracted to sell only the brewery beer. 

 

Held: Remedy was in civil law not criminal. 

 

Not guilty

Boggeln v Williams (1978) QBD

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - dishonesty - abstracting electricity]
D failed to pay a bill and was disconnected. D told an employee of the Electricity Board that he intended to reconnect the supply - he did this through the meter so it they would know how much electricity he used. He was charged with abstracting electricity (Sec 13 TA 1968)

 

Held: D's belief in his own honesty was crucial. Sec 13 did not make taking of electricity without due authority dishonest.

 

Not Guilty

Bonner, R v (1970) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - includes a partner or company] 

D broke the lock of the garage of W loaded some scrap metal. The metal was partnership property which he had not taken with the intention permanently to deprive W of it, but only to hold it as a sort of security until W paid him what he alleged was due to him out of the partnership profits

 

Held: There was nothing in law to prevent a conviction of theft of partnership or company property. 

 

A partner, who has a proprietary interest in partnership property, may steal it, since his co-partners also have such an interest

 

In this case the deprived partner's title had not been defeated (if the metal had been melted down and sold to an innocent purchase it might have been)

 

Not Guilty on the facts

Per curiam: Provided there is the basic ingredient theft one partner can commit theft of partnership property just as much as one person can steal the property of a stranger.

Briggs, R v (2003) CA

 

 

 

 

^[Theft - appropriation - does not include obtaining by deception]

D deceived elderly relatives into making a payment to her during their house move, whereby she (and her father) obtained title to the new property.

 

Held: D did not appropriate an item if by fraud she induced the owner to part with that item. R v Naviede [1997] was relied on.

If this were not the case there would be little need for many of the deception offences as many acts of deceptive conduct would be covered by theft, and the word "appropriation" connoted a physical act rather than a more remote action triggering the payment which gave rise to the charge.


Not guilty

Chan Man Sin v Attorney General for Hong Kong (1988) PC

[Theft - appropriation - money from bank accounts which are overdrawn can be theft if within overdraft limits]
D an accountant for H and M withdrew $4.8m from both H’s and M’s accounts using forged cheques. Both accounts went overdrawn, but within agreed limits.

D argued that the bank had no right to honour the forged cheques and the transactions should have been void. 

 

Held: D was guilty of theft of choses in action, i.e. the debts owed by the bank to the companies.

 

Lord Oliver:

"One who draws, presents and negotiates a cheque on a particular bank account is assuming the rights of the owner of the credit in the account or (as the case may be) of the pre-negotiated right to draw on the account up to the agreed figure."

Guilty

Chase Manhattan Bank NA v Israel-British Bank (London) Ltd [1981] CD

^[Theft - belonging to another - money paid over by mistake is not owned by the recipient]

C a New York bank paid some $2 million by mistake to a second bank for account of D, a London bank.

Bankruptcy proceedings followed.

 

Held: That a person who paid money to another under a factual mistake retained ownership of it (in equity).

C had a right to the money it did not belong to the defendant.

 

C entitled to trace and recover the money

Clowes (No 2), R v [1994] CA

^[Theft - dishonest appropriation - diverting investment money for own use]

DD committed theft and made false statements to induce investors to part with their money. The "Barlow Clowes" group of companies collapsed.

Between 1983 and 1988 millions of pounds were received from investors. Very little of the investors’ money was used to buy investments Instead, all investors’ money was mingled together in deposit accounts from which large sums were withdrawn by C for his own personal use.

 

Held: The BC group was not authorised to treat investors’ funds as its own, since the nature of the investment scheme stated in the brochures was investment in and the management of British government securities.


The conduct amounted to the appropriation of the property of the investors. It was up to the jury to determine whether he had acted dishonestly and to decide subjectively, i.e. to consider C’s own state of mind as to what he could do with the invested funds and the legal advice he had received which was relevant to that belief.

 

Guilty

Coffey, R v (1987) CA

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive]
D obtained bakery machinery from V using a worthless cheque. D had obtained the machinery so that he could exert pressure on V concerning an earlier dispute over which V refused to negotiate or reply. D achieved his purpose. 

 

Held: Section 6(1) of the Theft Act 1968 can be explained by borrowing the expression "equivalent to an outright taking or disposal" which is found in the second part of section 6.

 

If the jury thought that D might have intended to return the goods D would be not guilty unless they were sure that he intended that the period of detention should be so long as to amount to an outright taking.

 

Not guilty

Corcoran v Whent [1977] DC

[Theft - intention to deprive - cannot be formed after food is eaten]

D consumed food and drink at an hotel with a companion intending that the meal should be paid for. When he left the hotel his companion told him that the meal had not been paid for. He was convicted of theft as the justices found that when he was told that the food had not been paid for, the appellant formed the intention permanently to deprive the hotel of it.

 

Held: It was ridiculous to suggest that any intention relating to food could be formed after it had been consumed.

 

Not guilty

Dobson v General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corp (1990) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - consent irrelevant] 
Dobson advertised some jewellery for sale. A rogue bought the jewellery using a stolen building society cheque. Dobson’s home contents insurance company argued that theft was not the cause of his loss, because the appropriation took place with Dobson’s consent. 

 

Held: In order for there to be a theft there must have been a dishonest appropriation of the items by the purchaser. Following Lawrence the purchaser did assume the rights of the owner. He also did so dishonestly and with intention permanently to deprive Dobson of them. The fact that appropriation took place with Dobson’s consent was irrelevant.

 

Dobson won, rogue would be guilty

Dunbar, R v [1994] CMAC

^[Theft - what amounts to an obligation]
D offered to buy a car for £1,800 on behalf of X. X gave D £1,800 in cash in return for D's post-dated cheque for that sum as security. D did not buy the car and his cheque was not honoured because in the meantime his account had become overdrawn.

 

The judge directed the court martial that if it was sure that D and X had agreed that D should buy a specific car for X or else return the money, then as a matter of law, D was under a legal obligation to deal with the money in a particular way within the meaning of the Theft Act 1968 s. 5(3).

 

Held: The judge's direction had been correct

 

Not guilty on other 

R. v Hall [1973] and R. v Hayes (1977) disapproved.
 

Duru, R v [1974] CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive includes dishonest obtaining of mortgage money that will be repaid]

D assisted house buyers to obtain mortgages from the Greater London Council where he dealt with such applications. The applications contained false information.

The Council's money was eventually paid as mortgage moneys to the persons who thereupon became mortgagors.

 

Held: D was guilty of obtaining property, i.e. the cheques, 'with the intention of permanently depriving' the council of them even though the cheques themselves would ultimately go back to the council.

 

The fact that the mortgagors were under an obligation to repay the mortgage loans did not affect the accused's intention permanently to deprive the council of the cheques.


A cheque as a piece of paper, a cheque form, is personal property and may be stolen, regardless of the balance in the account upon which the cheque is drawn.

 

Guilty

Easom, R v [1971] CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - Intention permanently to deprive - conditional intention]
D in a cinema picked up a handbag and sorted through the contents. He left the handbag with its contents intact in front of the seat which he had vacated. The handbag had been attached by cotton to a police sergeant's wrist.

 

Held:  If D merely had it in mind to deprive the owner of such of his property as, proved worth taking but actually took nothing, he would not have stolen it.

 

D's state of mind is important.

Furthermore there could be no valid conviction of attempted theft unless it were established that he was animated by the same intention to permanently to deprive as would be necessary to establish the full offence.

 

Lord Scarman:

"In every case of theft the appropriation must be accompanied by the intention of permanently depriving the owner of his property. What may be loosely described as a 'conditional' appropriation will not do. If the appropriator has it in mind merely to deprive the owner of such of his property as, on examination, proves worth taking and then, finding that the booty is valueless to the appropriator, leaves it ready to hand to be repossessed by the owner, the appropriator has not stolen."

Not guilty

Comment: The problems of "conditional intent" were addressed in Attorney General's Reference (Nos.1 and 2 of 1979) CA and sec 1(2) Criminal Attempts Act 1981, if the indictment is properly framed most of the problems of "conditional intent" disappear.

Eddy v Niman (1981) QBD

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - act inconsistent with the rights of the owner]
D placed items in a supermarket trolley intending to steal goods. He changed his mind about stealing them before he reached the checkout. He abandoned the goods in the trolley and left the shop.  

 

Held: The question to be asked about appropriation was: had the defendant done some overt act inconsistent with the true owner’s rights?

D had merely taken goods from the shelf and placed them in a trolley provided by the store. He had not done any overt act inconsistent with the rights of the owner.

 

Not guilty

Edwards v Ddin [1976] QBD

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property belonging to another]
D drove to a garage and asked the attendant to put in oil and water in his mini, when the attendant went to clean her hands D drove off without paying. Payment was never discussed or offered.

 

Held: Property passes under a contract of sale when it is intended to pass. The garage and the motorist intended the property in the petrol to pass when it is poured into the tank and irretrievably mixed with the other petrol that is in it.  Thus D could not have appropriated the property of another and was therefore not guilty of theft.

 

Not guilty

Also here

Feely, R v (1973) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - dishonesty as a question of fact] 
D a betting shop manager borrowed £30 from the till and later gave an ‘IOU’. D’s employer had issued a memo stating that borrowing from tills was to stop, D knew this.  His employers owed more than twice this sum. 

 

Held: ‘Dishonesty’ can only relate to D’s own state of mind and it is a question of fact which juries should decide, applying the standards of ordinary decent people.

The word ‘dishonestly’ was an ordinary word of the English language and a jury required no direction by the judge as to its meaning.

 

Not guilty

Fernandes, R v [1996] CA

^[Theft - appropriation - intention permanently to deprive]

D, a solicitor transferred money from his clients’ account to a higher yielding account in an attempt to cover his personal debts. He was convicted of theft

 

Held: The critical notion was whether a defendant intended ‘to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights’.

 

Section 6 could apply to a person in possession or control of another’s property who, dishonestly and for his own purpose, dealt with that property in such a manner that he knew he was risking its loss.

 

In the present case there was an alleged dishonest disposal of someone else’s money on an obviously insecure investment.

 

Guilty

Fritschy, R v [1985] CA 

^[Theft - appropriation - consent] 
D dealt in coins (
krugerrands) for a Dutch company. D, in accordance with H’s instructions, collected the coins in England took them to Switzerland, but not to H’s Swiss bank. 

 

Held: Following Morris: There had been no appropriation in England because D had taken possession of the krugerrands with H's authority. Therefore there was no appropriation in England. 
 

Not guilty

 

Comment: This case is inconsistent with Lawrence and probably wrongly decided.

Gallasso, R v (1993) CA

^[Theft - appropriation - assumption of rights - objective test]

D, a nurse responsible for the care of mentally handicapped patients, quite properly received cheques on behalf of one of them, J, who was incapable of managing his affairs. Although there were already two trust accounts in existence in which J was named as the beneficiary, she opened a third trust account, and paid in a cheque belonging to J.
The prosecution alleged that this was to make it easier for her to make unauthorised withdrawals.
 

Held:  Taking of property with the owner's consent could amount to appropriation, for "appropriation" was an objective description of the act done irrespective of the mental state either of the owner or the accused; but, in the instant case, the paying in of the cheque by G into a trust account of which J was the sole beneficiary could not be regarded as an assumption by G of any of J's rights as owner.

 

Not guilty

Gardner v Mainsbridge  (1887) QBD

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property - mushrooms growing wild]

D gathered mushrooms in a field belonging to A. They were of some value to A, but they grew spontaneously, and were entirely uncultivated. No damage was done by D to the grass or the hedges,

Held: D had not been guilty of an offence under applicable legislation; mushrooms growing wild are not real or personal property.  Things growing in land do not form part of the realty.

 

Not guilty

Ghosh, R v [1982] CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - dishonesty as a question of fact -objective/subjective, two stage test]
D, a surgeon acting as a locum at a hospital represented that he was owed for operations that he had carried out. Someone else had carried out the operations under the NHS. 

 

Held: In determining whether D was acting dishonestly, the jury had first to consider whether according to the standards of the ordinary reasonable person what was done was dishonest (the objective test).

 

If it was, the jury must then consider whether D himself must have realised that what he was doing was dishonest by the standards of the ordinary reasonable person (the subjective test).

 

Guilty

Comment: This is referred to as the two-fold test.

The main criticism of which is that it does not eradicate the potential for inconsistency between juries, who are required to apply the "current standards of ordinary decent people".

 

Gilks, R v [1972] CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

 

 

^[Theft - belonging to another - money paid by mistake - dishonesty]
D was overpaid winnings by mistake by a bookmaker.
D knew that the bookmaker had made a mistake, but he kept the money. D said that "bookmakers are a race apart." It would be dishonest if your grocer gave you too much change and you kept it, but it was not dishonest in the case of a bookmaker.

 

Held: It was correct to invite the jury to put themselves in the defendant's position and decide whether he thought that he was acting dishonestly or honestly.


Cairns LJ

"On the face of it the defendant's conduct was dishonest: the only possible basis on which the jury could find that the prosecution had not established dishonesty would be if they thought it possible that the defendant did have the belief which he claimed to have."

Guilty

Greenberg, R v (1972)

[Theft - appropriation - ownership]

D took petrol from a self-service petrol station and left without paying.
After taking the petrol he entered the cashier's office with a note in his hand but left without paying while the cashier was attending to other customers.

 

Held: As D assumed the rights of owner by consent of the garage, and it was not shown that he never intended to pay, no crime was committed.
 

The courts held that at the time of appropriation the driving away the petrol was deemed to have belonged to the defendant.

 

The charge should not be for theft but for dishonestly obtaining property by deception.

 

Not guilty 

Greenstein, R v [1976] CA

^[Theft - deception - implied representations - cheques - dishonesty]
DD applied for overlarge volume of shares (called 'stagging') for which he sent a cheque. There was no overdraft facility on the account.  They expected to meet the cost of the shares allotted by using a cheque they would receive for unallotted shares.

 

Held: The issuing houses would not have issued shares if they knew their own cheques were going to fund the application.

Guilty

Also here

Gomez, DPP v [1993] HL

 

Whole case here

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - consent irrelevant]
D an assistant at an electrical shop was asked by B to supply goods (£16,000) in exchange for two building society cheques that D knew were stolen. D obtained authority from the manager to supply the goods. D did not tell the manager the cheques were stolen and he had not checked with the bank as he was instructed to do.

 

Held: There was an appropriation even though he acted with the authority of the shop manager.  Lawrence was the appropriate authority on the issue of appropriation. The consent of the owner was irrelevant in deciding whether an appropriation had taken place.


Lord Keith: 

"...the concept of appropriation in my view involves...an act by way of adverse interference with or usurpation of those rights....The actual decision in Morris was correct, but it was (wrong) to indicate that an act expressly or impliedly authorised by the owner could never amount to an appropriation."

 

Guilty

Governor Pentonville Prison ex p Osman, R v (1990) QBD

^[Theft - appropriation is the adverse assumption of the rights of an owner] 
D had been bribed in Hong Kong to make loans by drawing money from B's bank in New York by sending a telex.  The alleged activities involved hundreds of millions of US dollars.

 

(The case was a writ of habeas corpus.  D was in prison awaiting his return to Hong Kong).

 

Held: A theft takes place where the appropriation and appropriation takes place (normally) where the property is situated.  Sending a telex could amount to an appropriation (even it the account is never debited). Therefore theft had been committed in Hong Kong from where D sent the telex.


An appropriation is the adverse assumption of any of the owner’s rights. This clearly includes the right of an owner of a bank debt. D assumed this right by drawing funds from B’s account.

 

The English court therefore had jurisdiction.

 

Application for habeas corpus refused (many times)

Hale, R v (1979) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation is a continuing act]

D and E burgled V's house. D was upstairs stealing V's jewellery box E was downstairs tying up V.

 

Held:

Eveleigh LJ:

'The act of appropriation does not suddenly cease.   It is a continuous act and it is a matter for the jury to decide whether or not the act of appropriation has finished.'

Guilty of robbery

Hall, R v [1972] CA

^[Theft - s 5(3) contractual obligations distinguished]

D, a travel agent, received money from clients for air trips to America. None of the flights materialised and none of the money was refunded.

 

Held: Although D had a contractual obligation to the clients and could be sued in respect of any breach, he could not be guilty of theft because the clients had not made any special arrangement with D putting him 'under an obligation to retain and deal with... in a particular way' within s 5 (3)  (Where a person receives property from or on account of another, and is under an obligation to the other to retain and deal with that property or its proceeds in a particular way, the property or proceeds shall be regarded (as against him) as belonging to the other).

 

Not guilty

Disapprovd  in R v Dubar

Hancock, R v [1990] CA

^[Theft - treasure trove - theft of coins - coins must be treasure trove beyond reasonable doubt in order to be stolen - coins do not have to be in actual or constructive possession of the crown]

D was charged with theft from the Crown of 16 ancient coins found in an area which appeared to have been the site of a Romano-Celtic temple.

 

Held: It was not necessary that property was in the possession, actual or constructive, of the owner (the crown) when it was stolen.

A jury can determine whether the coins were in fact treasure trove and thus the property of the Crown, but they must apply the criminal burden and standard of proof.

A coroner’s inquest to establish that the property is treasure trove is no longer a prerequisite for a charge of theft of treasure trove.

 

Not guilty on a jury misdirection

Hibbert v McKiernan (1948) KBD

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - possession or control]
D was a trespasser on a golf course, he collected 8 lost golf balls for his own use. He had previously been warned off and the club had taken steps to exclude such persons (including employing the police to do so).

 

Held: He was he was guilty of stealing from the club who owned the land and possessed the balls.  By excluding trespassers they possessed the golf balls even though they did not know how many.

D was not guilty of stealing from the original owners who had abandoned them.

 

Guilty

Hinks, R v (2000) HL

 

Whole case here

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation – includes ‘gifts’ – where actions are dishonest]

D a carer of a 53-year-old man of low intelligence persuaded him to make gifts to her totalling £60,000 (almost all his savings).

 

Held:

Lord Steyn:

It was held in R v Lawrence (1972) and DPP v Gomez (1993) that it was immaterial whether the act of appropriation was done with or without the owner's consent or authority.

"Appropriation" is a neutral word comprehending "any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner".

A person could appropriate property belonging to another where the other person made him an indefeasible gift of property, retaining no proprietary interest or any right to resume or recover any proprietary interest in the property.


D had acted dishonestly.

 

Guilty

Huskinson, DPP v [1988] DC

^[Theft no obligation to pay Housing benefit]
D, the tenant of a bed-sitting room. He fell into arrears of rent and applied for housing benefit. He only gave about half to his landlord.

 

Held: There is no obligation to pay housing benefit to the landlord (and no such obligation can be implied), and accordingly failure to do so is not an offence within the Theft Act 1968.
 

Whilst the tenant has an obligation to pay his rent to his landlord, he is not obliged to give his housing benefit directly in satisfaction of any arrears

 

Not guilty

Holden, R v [1991] CA

^[Theft - not dishonest if honestly believed he had or would have had owner's consent - relevance of dishonesty]

D took tyres from his former employer in the belief that he had permission to remove the tyres, or believed it would have been granted had he sought it.

 

Held:  The reasonableness of a defendant's belief was irrelevant to the question of dishonesty.

 

The question was whether H had, or might have had, the necessary honest belief, reasonably or not.

 

Not guilty

Hussein, R v [1978] CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - intention to steal anything of value - conditional intent is not theft]
D, in the middle of the night appeared to open the back door of a van.  On the approach of a PC they made off
Appeal against conviction.
The van had eccentric features. The interior of the van was covered with white rabbit fur which extended over the dashboard and inside the door.

In the van was a holdall which contained valuable sub-aqua equipment.

 

Held: What has to be established is an intention to steal at the time as expressed in Easom (1971)

"In every case of theft the appropriation must be accompanied by the intention of permanently depriving the owner of his property. What may be loosely described as a 'conditional' appropriation will not do. If the appropriator has it in mind merely to deprive the owner of such of his property as, on examination, proves worth taking and then, finding that the booty is valueless to the appropriator, leaves it ready to hand to be repossessed by the owner, the appropriator has not stolen."

Comment: The problems of "conditional intent" were addressed in Attorney General's Reference (Nos.1 and 2 of 1979) CA and sec 1(2) Criminal Attempts Act 1981, if the indictment is properly framed most of the problems of "conditional intent" disappear.

J, DPP v
[2002] QBD

 

Citation:

BLD 210202637

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive includes damaging property]

DD who were 14 robbed another boy.  They snatched his headphones and broke them in half, and then returned them to the boy.

 

Held:  An intention to permanently deprive could be inferred from the acts of the defendants. Once they had snapped the headphones, they had rendered them useless. Moreover by snatching and snapping the article, they had in reality disposed of it.

 

An action whose result rendered property useless, was in effect no different from an action which risked the loss of that article.

 

Guilty

Kaur (Dip) v Chief Constable Hants (1981) DC

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - ownership passes when goods are paid for]
D selected a pair of shoes marked £6.99 in British Home Stores. One of the shoes had a £6.99 label the other shoe stated £4.99. D took the shoes to the counter without concealing either label. She paid £4.99 and left the shop. She argued that at the moment that she left the shop with the shoes the ownership of them had passed from the shop to her and therefore the property did not belong to another. 

 

Held: The ownership of the shoes passed to D when she paid for them (s 18 Sale of Goods Act 1979). 

The cashier had authority to sell the shoes for the price on the ticket.   The fact that she accepted the lower price did not affect her authority.

The mistake was the cashier's induced by the price label, not a mistake as to identity so as to make the contract void but only so as to make it voidable. (cf. Morris (1984) HL).

When D left the shop they belonged to her and she did not intend to deprive the owner of them.

 

Not guilty

Kelly, R v  (1998) CA

 

Whole case here

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property - exception to common law rule that there was no property in dead bodies]

D stole 35-40 body parts from the Royal College of Surgeons where he was permitted to draw anatomical specimens. D made casts of them, and buried parts in a field, an attic and basement.

 

Held: There was an exception to the traditional common law rule that there was no property in a corpse. Parts of corpses were capable of being property if they had acquired different attributes by virtue of the application of skill, such as dissection and preservation techniques, for exhibition and teaching purposes.

The college had sufficient possession even though they should not have kept them beyond two years before burial stipulated in the Anatomy Act 1832.

 

Guilty

Comment: a urine specimen can be stolen see Welsh

Kendrick, R v [1997] CA

 

Whole case here

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - consent irrelevant]

DD stole property of a 99 year old lady Betty who was under their care in a residential home. After Betty's daughter died DD took control of her affairs.

DD benefited from transfers of funds, stock-market investments, a will, and electronic gates for the home.

DD maintained these were gifts, with Betty's consent, whose mental capacity was failing.

 

Held: The Theft Act 1968 does not contain the words "without the consent of the owner".

The jury therefore need only consider whether there was a "dishonest appropriation."

 

Morally reprehensible conduct was insufficient.

 

Guilty

Klineberg & Marsden, R v [1999] CA

 

 

Whole case here

^[Theft - property belongs to another when it is handed to D to deal with in a particular way and he does not]

DD were involved in a timeshare fraud whereby intending purchasers of timeshares in a development in Lanzarote were relieved of their money but did not acquire any timeshares.

 

Held: Such investments may include implied terms that money would be safeguarded by trusteeship.

There was clearly a legal obligation within the meaning of 5(3) of the Theft Act 1968 to retain and deal with the money or its proceeds in a particular way, and it should therefore be deemed to be ‘property belonging to another’.

 

Some defendants guilty

Kohn, R v (1979) CA 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - employee using company's cheques for own use - when in credit and when overdrawn - is assuming the rights of the owner]

D an accountant with a variety of business interests used company cheques for his own use and drew various sums from the bank accounts of the company concerned.

 

On three occasions the account was in credit, on other occasions the account was overdrawn

 

Held: Theft of a thing in action might include theft of a debt owed by a bank to one of its customers i.e. property within section 4 (1).

 

The cheque was the means by which the theft of the property was achieved.

 

A bank account belongs to the customer  An account held at a bank or a building society is a thing in action. If the account is in credit, a relationship of debtor and creditor exists. The debt cannot be physically handled or possessed, but it can be enforced by action and is a thing in action may be stolen.

 

When the agreed overdraft limit was exceeded, there was no relationship of debtor and creditor, even notionally, thus the bank had no duty to the customer to meet the cheque; for even if it did so as a matter of grace, that did not retrospectively create any personal right of property in the customer and did not create any duty retrospectively in the bank; thus the alleged theft of a thing in action when the account was over the agreed overdraft limit must be quashed.
 

D in filling in the cheques created bills of exchange which the bank had to honour, and in making the cheques his own, the offence of theft was complete there being a sufficient appropriation for the purposes of sections 3 and 6 of the Theft Act 1968

 

Guilty on most counts

Lacis v Cashmarts
[1969] DC

 

 

 

^[Theft -  when property passes]

D was undercharged by £100 in a cash and carry shop. When the mistake was discovered, D refused to pay and was convicted of stealing cigarettes to the value of £100, the property of shop.

 

Held: Property in the goods only passed on the payment of the price, therefore the property had not passed.  Although the property had not passed the manager had intended to pass the property in all the goods, and since the goods had been taken with the consent of the owner there was no larceny.

 

Not guilty.

Comment: Since the Theft Act 1968 anyone in a similar position would be guilty.

Landy, R v (1981) CA

^[Theft - dishonesty is the state of mind of D]
DD directors of a bank actively used banking irregularities and malpractices to obtain money from the bank, putting customers of the bank at risk. He concealed what was happening. 

 

Held: Dishonesty is the state of mind of the defendants themselves and not what reasonable men in their circumstances would have believed or intended, although what reasonable men would have believed might help the jury to decide what the defendants’ beliefs were.

Lawton LJ:

"An assertion by a defendant that throughout a transaction he acted honestly does not have to be accepted but has to be weighed like any other piece of evidence. If that was the defendant’s state of mind, or may have been, he is entitled to be acquitted. But if the jury, applying their own notions of what is honest and what is not, conclude that he could not have believed that he was acting honestly, then the element of dishonesty will have been established. "

 

Not Guilty

 

Comment: This case was actually about fraud but focussed on the meaning "dishonesty". Opening prosecution speech lasted 73 days and there were massive amounts of paper

Lavender, DPP v  [1994] DC

^[Theft - s 6(1) "to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights" includes disposing to the owner]

D took two doors from a council house and used them to replace damaged doors in his girlfriend's house, owned by the same council.

 

Held: Under the first limb of s.6(1) D had treated the doors as his own to dispose of regardless of the owner's rights, and that was enough.

The proper question was whether L intended to treat the doors as his own, regardless of the council's rights.

 

Guilty

Lawrence, R v (1972) HL

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[The - appropriation - consent] 
D a taxi driver in London took an Italian tourist who spoke little English to a destination where the tourist offered D £1 but D took a further £6 from the tourist’s wallet. The fare should have been 10s 6d (52 1/2p).

 

D argued that the tourist had consented to the taking of the money from the wallet by holding it open and so D could not have appropriated it. 

 

Held: Viscount Dilhorne:

It was not necessary to establish that the appropriation had taken place without the owner’s consent. Belief or absence of belief that the owner consented to the appropriation may be relevant to the issue of dishonesty but not to the issue of appropriation.

 

Guilty of theft of £6

 

Comment: Viscount Dilhorne was surprised that this case reached the House of Lords

Lewis v Lethbridge (1987) QBD

^[Theft - belonging to another - property must be received under an obligation to deal in a particular way for 5(3) to apply] 
D obtained £54.00 sponsorship for a friend who entered the London Marathon. He did not hand over the money to the charity, and certainly not the actual notes and coins.

 

Held: The justices erred in finding that the debt owed by [D] could be described as proceeds of the property received.

 

D was not under an obligation to keep in existence a fund equivalent to that which he has received. He can do whatever he likes with the money provided, in due course, he hands over an equivalent amount to the charity.

 

Not guilty

Disapproved in Wain

Lightfoot, R v (1993) CA

^[Theft - dishonesty - distinction between knowledge of the law and knowledge that he was doing wrong]

D was alleged to have attempted to obtain goods by deception using a credit card belonging someone he worked with and in whose name L had signed the card.

D claimed that the owner of the card had offered him the use of it.

 

The trial judge directed the jury in accordance with the second limb of Ghosh that requires D to realise that what he was doing was, by the standards of ordinary people, wrong. The jury sent a note asking whether ignorance of the law was a defence. The trial judge simply replied "No".

 

Held:  The trial judge's response to the jury's question had been inadequate. There was a clear distinction between D's knowledge of the law, which was irrelevant, and his appreciation that he was doing something which by the ordinary standards of reasonable honest people was regarded as dishonest and the jury may not have clearly understood the difference from the direction that was given.

 

Not guilty 

Lloyd, R v [1985] CA 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - intention permanently to deprive does not include borrowing] 
D a projectionist at a cinema secretly borrowed films and lent them to friends who made illegal copies of them. The films were returned after a few hours undamaged to the cinema in time for the performance.

 

Held: Borrowing property could only amount to "intending to permanently deprive the owner of it" if the intention of the borrower was to return the property in such a changed state that it had lost all its practical value. The cinema could still show the films to the public.

 

Not guilty

Low v Blease (1973) DC

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property - does not include electricity]
D entered premises as a trespasser and made a telephone call.

 

Held: Electricity is not property for the purposes of theft and cannot be stolen (only unlawfully abstracted)

 

Not guilty of burglary

Mainwaring, R v (1982) CA

^[Theft - belonging to another - property received under an obligation, the obligation must be a legal obligation - sec 5(3)]
D a director of a company in the UK which developed houses in abroad. A person wanting to buy one of the houses would hand over cash to D as a deposit. It was alleged that the person would not get the house and D would dishonestly appropriate the money to pay off the company’s overdraft. 

 

Held: The obligation to deal with the property in particular way must be a legal obligation and not a moral one.

The real question was whether D acted dishonestly for if he had, it mattered not whether or not the use of the money was within the objects contained in the companies memorandum of association.

 

Not guilty

Marshall, R v (Eren,  and Coombes, R v) [1999] CA

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive includes reselling used tickets which will be returned to London Transport - a chose in action created a right which was appropriated]
DDD obtained London Underground tickets from passengers leaving the system and sold them to other potential customers.

Held: On issuing an Underground ticket a contract was created between London Underground and the purchaser, under which both parties had rights and obligations which could be enforced.
 

Each party to the contract had obtained a chose in action, represented on the purchaser’s side by the right to travel on the Underground and on London Underground’s side by the right to insist that the ticket was used by no-one other than the purchaser.
 

It was this right that was disregarded when the appellants acquired the tickets and sold them on.
 

The charge of theft related to the tickets themselves, which were not choses in action. The fact that the tickets might return to the possession of London Underground was irrelevant. The Theft Act 1968 s 6(1) applied. The appellants had admitted dishonesty.

Guilty

Mazo, R v (1997) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - gifts from donor with reduced mental state theft not moral judgment]
D, a Filipino maid allegedly stole from her employer, aged 89. It was alleged that D had cashed cheques to the value of £37,000 taken other valuables.

D argued that the cheques were gifts, but the prosecution argued that M had taken advantage of the vulnerability of her employer's increasingly deteriorating state of mind.

 

Held: There was reference to whether the employer had the mental capacity to make a valid gift. That left the jury with the impression that they could morally judge D in relation to whether she should have refused the gifts in the circumstances, rather than consider her guilt in relation to the offence of theft.

 

Not guilty

McIvor, R v  [1982] CA

^[Theft - the objective test of dishonesty - the jury should apply their own standards - the subjective test is D's state of mind]

D asked his employers to lend him £300 to go on holiday. They refused, so he took it from two safes (to which he had access because he handled large sums of money).  He did not put a note or cheque in the safe and did not hand the safe keys over to his relief. He physically handed over the money shortly afterwards.

D argued that he had always intended to repay the money, and knew that he would be able to do so with money coming from Canada, and that he did not think he had acted dishonestly.

 

Held: It was right that the jury should apply their own standards to the question of dishonesty, but nevertheless they should be directed to give the defendant's own evidence as to his state of mind whatever weight they thought right, and not to disregard it. However, in the circumstances of the case, the proviso (section 2 (1) of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 - conviction not unsafe) would be applied.

 

Guilty

Disapproved of in R v Ghosh

McPherson, R v (1973) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - taking goods intending to steal before passing checkout]

D took bottles of whiskey from a display stand and placed them in a shopping bag.

The question was whether the taking at the display stand could amount to appropriation before the bottles had been taken past the payment counter.
 

Held: Placing of the bottles in a shopping bag with an intent to steal, amounted to appropriation within the Theft Act s. 1(1).

 

Guilty

Meech, R v (1974) CA

^[Theft - appropriation - consent] 
D cashed C's cheque at C's request (because it had been fraudulently obtained from an HP company) but D organised a fake robbery. The ‘robbers’ were his friends (allegedly relieving D of the money to restore it to the HP company).

 

Held: The appropriation took place at the time of the fake robbery or when arranged. Although D had the intention to steal, until that time, he was acting with C’s authority.

 

A person who has received property from or on account of another may be under an "obligation" to retain and deal with it in a particular way with the effect that the property is regarded as against him as belonging to the other within s. 5(3) of the Theft Act 1968, despite the fact that the obligation could not be legally performed or enforced.

 

Guilty

Meredith, R v (1973) Crown Court Judge John Da Cunha

^[Theft - belonging to another police lawfully detaining a car have no more right than the owner]

D, who owned a car, parked it in a road. The police removed it to a police station yard under Reg. 4 of the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1968. D went to the yard, removed the police Krooklok from the car and drove it away. Two days later he was seen by the police, returned their Krooklok, and was charged with theft of the Krooklok. Later he was charged with theft of the car.
 

Held: The police had no right as against the owner to retain the car, and he was not guilty of its theft; as to the Krooklok, he had it for such a short time before admitting to the police that he had it, that he should not be put in jeopardy of conviction for dishonesty; the jury were directed to acquit.

 

Not guilty

Monaghan, R v [1979] CA

^[Theft - dishonest appropriation includes intention to accrue benefit]

D a cashier in a supermarket took nearly four pounds from a customer for a purchase but did not ring it up on the till.

She put the money in there intending to remove it later. She was arrested before she did this.

 

Held: The money had been put in the till, without ringing it up, in order that it should accrue for her own benefit and not that of her employers. Accordingly there had been a dishonest appropriation.

 

Guilty

Morris, R v  and Anderton v Burnside [1984] HL

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

 

 

^[Theft - appropriation - usurping the rights of the owner - includes switching price labels]
These were conjoined appeals to settle the vexed question of label switching in supermarkets.

Morris removed articles from the shelf in a supermarket and switched price labels on items.  Burnside did the same with a joint of pork. They were detected at the checkout. Their intentions were to pay the lower price shown on the switched label.

 

Held: The true meaning of the word ‘appropriation’ is an adverse usurpation or interference with some (although not all) of the rights of the owner.

 

The act of switching labels either alone or in conjunction with some other act constituted an appropriation.

 

The taking of articles from the shelf in a self-service supermarket was an act for which the shopper had implied authority. The removal did not, in itself, constitute an appropriation because this was not an act that was adverse to the owner’s rights.

 

The act of switching the labels was not, in itself, an appropriation, but if the defendant went on to, for example attempt to pay the lower price at the checkout it becomes an appropriation. At that point, it has been combined with some other act, which went beyond the implied authority of the owner.

 

Guilty

 

per curiam: It is wrong to introduce into this branch of the criminal law questions whether particular contracts are void or voidable on the ground of mistake or fraud or whether any mistake is sufficiently fundamental to vitiate a contract, which are not relevant questions under the Act of 1968

Navvabi, R v (1986) CA

^[Theft - appropriation - cheques backed by a guarantee card drawn on an account in a fictitious name, in which there are no funds, is not an "appropriation" - the relationship in such a case is between the payee and the bank]
D opened bank accounts using false names. He used 12 cheques supported by a banker’s card in a casino to obtain gaming chips. There were insufficient funds in the accounts to cover the cheques. D argued that there had been no appropriation. 

 

Held: The use of a banker’s card to guarantee a cheque drawn on an account with insufficient funds was not appropriation. The use of the banker’s card to support a cheque merely gave the payee a contractual right against the bank to be paid the sum specified on the cheque. Therefore, there was no appropriation by D neither when he gave the cheque to the payee nor when the payee presented the cheque to the bank and it was honoured. D had not assumed the rights of the bank to that part of the funds of the bank.

 

Not guilty

Ngan, R v [1998] CA

^[Theft - appropriation of property occurs on presenting a cheque not writing it]

D opened a bank account and mistakenly received sums intended for the previous holder of the account number. Blank cheques sent to her sister were cashed.

 

Held: Appropriation occurred when the cheque was presented. Until then no right as against the bank had been exercised.

 

Guilty

Comment: Two cheques were presented in Scotland and following the courts reasoning the appropriation occurred outside the courts jurisdiction, one was presented in Peterborough and for that cheque D was guilty in England.

Oxford v Moss (1979) QBD

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property - there is no property in information - information is not intangible property]
D a university student obtained a copy of an examination paper read it and then replaced it. It was never his intention to take the paper away or deprive the university of it.  

 

Held: Confidential information held on a piece of paper could not amount to intangible property according to the true interpretation of s 4 of the Theft Act 1968.

 

Not guilty

 

Comment: The university was Liverpool, Oxford was the Chief Constable, the exam was Civil Engineering

Parker v British Airways [1982] CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - includes possession or control]
A passenger in an executive lounge at an airport found a gold bracelet.

 

Held: In a civil action, the passenger was held to have a better right to it than BA who did not know they 'possessed' it (the finder was not a trespasser).

 

Parker won

 

cf Waverley v Fletcher

Philippou, R v (1989) CA

^[Theft - belonging to another can include a company]

D, a director of a group of holiday companies, bought a block of flats used by S, one of the companies, using S's money.

 

D argued that the withdrawal of the money could not be an appropriation as D and his co-director were the mind of S and their instructions to the bank therefore amounted to a consent by S.

 

Held:  The instruction to the bank was only one part of the transaction;  the other being the use of the money to buy the flats.

From that the jury could infer that the transaction was dishonest and the intention was to deprive S of the money.

 

Guilty

Pilgram v Rice-Smith (1977) DC

 

^[Theft - dishonestly paying a lower price amounts to theft of the whole of the goods, not just the difference in the price]

D served her friend on the provisions counter and under priced  bacon and corned beef; the friend paid the lower price at the checkout. Both were convicted of theft of bacon and beef (the value being the difference between the price paid and the the proper price).

They appealed successfully to the Crown Court against their conviction, the judge ruling that the prosecution could not indicate the particular part of each item allegedly stolen.
 

Held: DD's original conviction had been correct; their was no contract for sale. The whole enterprise was fraudulent. DD should have been charged with stealing the whole of the goods. (A defendant could be convicted of stealing a part of goods where theft of the whole was proved).

 

Not guilty but would be now

Pitham and Hehl, R v  (1977) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - includes assuming the rights of the owner]
DD went to a house to buy furniture of a man in prison, from M, his 'friend' .

The defendants argued that their handling of the goods took place before they had been appropriated (and so were not stolen goods that could be 'handled').

 

Held: M appropriated the property by the time the defendants handled it. He had assumed the rights of the owner when he took the defendants to the house and invited them to buy the furniture. Once the appropriation was complete, the goods were stolen and therefore the defendants had handled stolen goods.

 

Guilty

Preddy, R v [1996] HL

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Deception - property belonging to another - bank account is a thing in action]
D applied for money to be secured by mortgages. In each case D made statements which he knew to be false. The money was transferred to D’s bank electronically.

D was charged with dishonestly obtaining and attempting to obtain advances by way of mortgages (1968 Act, s 15(1)).

 

Held: When D's bank account was credited, he did not obtain a lender’s chose in action. On the contrary, that chose in action was extinguished or reduced and a chose in action was brought into being representing a debt in an equivalent sum owed by D’s bank to D. So D had not obtained property belonging to another.

 

Not guilty.
 

Comment: This case lead to the immediate passing of the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996 which effectively describes what Preddy did and declares that to be an offence.

Also here.

Preddy was considered in Sofroniou

R (on the application of A) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2001] DC

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - property can belong to a company - director can steal from his own company]
D a director of a company secured a renewal of a supply contract by corrupt payments of £1 million.
 

He argued that the renewal was effected by and for the company (which was him and another, both aware of the corrupt nature of the payment). So, he had not assumed the company’s property.


Held: A person can be guilty of theft from a company of which he is a director where there is an appropriation within the definition in s 3 of the Theft Act 1968, provided the appropriation is dishonest (directed at the company).

 

D's conduct may be found not to be the conduct of the company, especially where the director is not the owner of all the shares in the company and the scheme involves concealing what is happening from the board of the company.

 

Whether or not a director has acted dishonestly, however, is essentially a question for the jury.

 

Guilty

Roberts, R v [1985] CA

^[Theft - dishonesty - Ghosh test applies]
D attempted to obtain the reward money for the return of two Renoir paintings worth £51,000.

The loss adjuster offered a reward for their return. D handed the paintings over in exchange for £10,000. and was arrested.

 

Held: The second part of the Ghosh test need only be put to the jury where the defendant specifically raises the defence that he did not think he was dishonest by his own standards. 

There is no requirement that the jury should have to considered whether the appellant was acting dishonestly vis-à-vis the losers (who were not being dishonest).

 

Guilty

Rostron & Collinson, R v CA [2003]

^[Theft - property belonging to another - removing "lost" golf balls is theft - test of dishonesty is Ghosh]

DD collected "lost" golf balls in the middle of the night from a golf course. They were dressed in frogman, or diving suits, and in possession of a sack, of very wet golf balls.  They had recovered the balls from stretches of water. There is a good trade in "lake balls".
 

Held: Evidence from the club professional that lost balls belonged to the club was supported by Hibbert v McKiernan [1948]. DD knew they werer not entitled to go onto the golf course to recover the balls and were dishonest in the Ghosh sense.

 

Guilty

Comment: This case merely confirms the ratio in Hibbert as applicable to the Theft Act 1968. It received great publicity at the time particularly when one defendant received and immediate custodial sentence (reduced to a community penalty on appeal).  News report here.

Shadrokh-Cigari, R v [1988] CA

^[Theft - property belonging to another - payer retains equitable interest after mistake]

D got his ward to draw bankers drafts in his favour from her account. A U.S. bank credited the ward's bank account in England with $286,000 by mistake instead of £286.


Held: It was wrong to assume that the English bank was left with no rights in the drafts. It retained an equitable proprietary interest as a result of the mistake which amounted to property within the Theft Act 1968 s. 5(1)
 

The money belonged to another as against the recipient of the money. 

 

Guilty

Skipp, R v (1975) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation - consent - contemporaneity of actus and mens]
D posed as a haulage contractor and agreed to deliver two loads of oranges and onions from London to a customer in Leicester. He collected the goods but did not deliver them to the customer. He had intended to steal them from the outset.

 

Held: An assumption of the rights of the owner did not necessarily take place at the same time as the intention to permanently deprive the owner of it. D intended to steal the goods from the outset, but he did not appropriate the goods until they were all loaded and probably not then until D diverted from the route to the agreed destination. Until the goods were diverted from the destination D was acting with the authority of the owner.

 

Guilty

Small, R v (1988) CA

^[Theft - dishonesty - the Ghosh test]
D saw a car for two weeks parked at an angle on a corner of a road, with the doors unlocked and keys in the ignition. One tyre was flat, as was the battery. The petrol tank was empty and the windscreen wipers did not work. D thought it was abandoned property and so he could take it. 

 

Held: The jury should have been directed to consider: 

  1. whether according to the standards of the ordinary reasonable and honest person what D did was dishonest; and 

  2. if so, whether D must have realised what he was doing was dishonest by the standards of ordinary reasonable and honest people.

A belief unreasonably held could be an honest belief.

 

Not guilty

Stuart, R v (1982) CA

^[Theft - dishonest appropriation - intent formed after appropriation not sufficient]

D, the manager of the Calor gas department in a shop ordered a gas cooker for himself and had it installed, but failed to pay for it.

 

Held: A jury had to decide whether there had been a theft at the time of the acquisition of the cooker. If not, then there could be no theft subsequently.

 

Not guilty

Turner (1)&(2), R v (1970) CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - belonging to another - possession or control - propriety right or interest suffices]
D's car was repaired (new piston rings) at a garage. The mechanic parked the car on the road outside the garage. D surreptitiously took the car away neither telling the garage nor paying for the repairs. He argued he owned the car and therefore it did not belong to another. 

 

Held: D had stolen the car because at the time of the appropriation it was under the possession and control of the garage. Although the garage may have had a "lien" over the car, this was irrelevant in the present case. The question rightly asked of the jury was: ‘Did the garage in fact have possession or control of the car at the time of the appropriation?’ 

 

Guilty

Comment:
Turner (1) was the acquittal of D who should not have pleaded guilty - according to the CofA - they quashed the conviction and a new trial was held.
 

Turner (2) was a subsequent appeal regarding the "possession" of the car, this revolving around the garage owner's "lien", every other conceivable point was taken and argued.

 

On the question of dishonesty the CofA thought that D would not have had the vaguest idea whether he had in law a right to take the car back again

 

This was more than a straightforward case of taking a car back from the garage. The garage owner did not know where D lived but found the car outside his flat; he took it back to his garage and removed the engine then put it back outside D's flat.

 

At the time this case received extensive publicity.

Velumyl, R v (1989) CA

^[Theft - intention to permanently deprive same objects must be returned]

D,  a company manager borrowed £1050 from safe at work without authority and contrary to company rules and leant it to a friend.  He intended to return the money on the following Monday.

 

Held: D's intention to repay the money (with different notes or coins) did not afford V a defence. He had the requisite intention permanently to deprive. He had no intention to return the objects he had taken. It had not been suggested that there was a lack of dishonesty on V's part.

 

Guilty

Wain, R v [1995] CA

 

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - appropriation belonging to another s5(3) creates an obligation to account for actual money received or its proceeds]

D helped raise and collect money for the Telethon Trust charity.  He but put the money in his personal account, with the Trust's permission, but used it for his own purposes, thereby appropriating the money. Cheques to the Trust bounced

 

Held: Section 5(3) of the Theft Act 1968 imposed an obligation on D to retain if not the actual notes and coins at least their proceeds.

By putting the money in his own account, it was still the proceeds of those notes and coins. There was an obligation on D to keep sufficient money to pay the bills.

 

Guilty

 

Per curiam: Whether a person was acting as a trustee, he would be judged on an objective basis as it was an obligation imposed by law and not essential that the person should have realised that he was a trustee.
 

Lewis and Lethbridge disapproved.

Walkington, R v (1979) CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - conditional intent sufficient in burglary]
D went behind a counter in a large store and opened a till drawer, to see if there was anything worth stealing, it was empty so he slammed it shut.

 

Held: When a person entered part of a building intending steal anything in that part of the building, it was immaterial whether there was in fact anything in that part of the building worth stealing. He had an 'intent to steal' which was sufficient to found a conviction for burglary.

Lord Lane said that to believe otherwise a layman would wonder if the law had taken leave of its sense.

 

Guilty

 

Comment: The problems of "conditional intent" were addressed in Attorney General's Reference (Nos.1 and 2 of 1979) CA and sec 1(2) Criminal Attempts Act 1981, if the indictment is properly framed most of the problems of "conditional intent" disappear.

Warner, R v  (1970) CA

^[Theft - intention to deprive must be intention to permanently deprive]

D took a box of tools and hid them in his shop in a box and covered them with scarves.  He did so because of an ongoing dispute between the workers of two neighbouring shops.  He intended to return them "in about an hour".

 

Held: There has to be proved an intention to permanently deprive the owner, the learned Chairman may have confused the jury by using the word "indefinitely" as well as "permanently.

 

The object of s 6 of the 1968 Act is in no case to water down the definition of theft found in s 1(1) of the Act, but merely to clarify in certain respects the meaning of the words ‘intention of permanently depriving’ contained in the definition and to give illustrations of the dishonest intent required.
 

 

Not guilty

Waverley BC v Fletcher (1995) CA

^[Theft - treasure trove - rights of land owner superior to finder if finder commits a trespass]

D found a medieval gold broach in a public park using a metal detector.

He reported it, a corner's inquest found it not to be treasure trove and it was returned to him.

The Council that owned the park claimed ownership of the broach because it was found on their land

 

Held: The council had better title to the broach, because metal detecting and digging up and removing items were not "recreations" permitted in the park.

 

D lost

 

cf Parker v British Airways

Welsh, R v [1974] CA

 

Red Triangle - important information

^[Theft - property - urine specimen can be stolen - human bodies cannot be stolen]

D, a drive accused of drink driving, poured his own urine specimen down a sink when the relevant police officer was out of the room.

 

Held: Although their is a traditional view that human corpses cannot belong to anyone body fluids can be stolen.

 

Guilty of Perversion of course of justice
 

Comment: It may also be possible to steal parts of the body upon which work, e.g., of preservation, has been done as with Egyptian mummies, see Kelly

Wheeler, R v (1990) CA

^[Theft - not theft (or obtaining by deception if property appropriated before knowledge of previous theft]

D, a market-stall holder, agreed to sell a medal later in the day. Before the customer returned, the police informed the trader that the medal was stolen. The customer paid him the asking price.

 

Held: Property passed in the goods as soon as the agreement was made despite the fact that delivery and payment were to be made later, and although the trader did not have good title in the goods, he could, under the 1968 Act s 22, give a good title to the customer.

There was no deception since the sale had taken place in market overt

D could not represent to the customer that he was the lawful owner of the medal, as property had already passed to the customer. There was no dishonesty before or at the time of sale.

 

Not guilty

Williams v Phillips (1957) DC

^[Theft - property belonging to another - refuse which a householder puts out to be taken away is not abandoned property]

DD Dustmen were convicted of stealing goods from dustbins collected in the course of their duties, and selling the goods to dealers and sharing the proceeds.

 

Held: Refuse put in a dustbin was not abandoned; it was the householders' property until it was taken away, when it became the corporation's property; the men knew that they were not allowed to take anything from the refuse and there was abundant evidence on which the justices could convict; therefore, the appeals must be dismissed

 

Guilty

Williams, R v (1979) CA

^[Theft - belonging to another - possession or control]
D bought some obsolete Yugoslav dinar from a stamp collector’s shop for £7.00. He took them to a bureau de change and exchanged them for £107 sterling.
 
Held: Although the mistake of the cashier in thinking that the dinar was still valid currency was a fundamental mistake which made the contract void ab initio. D had appropriated property (the Sterling) belonging to another.
 

Guilty

Wille, R v (1988) CA

^[Theft - cheques - assumes the rights of an owner and appropriates the debt]

D, a company director signed cheques on his own without counter signature, the bank should not have honoured them.

 

Held:  A company account in credit could be the subject of a theft since only part of the rights of the owner need be assumed for there to be an appropriation.

It was irrelevant that the company's account had been debited by the bank without authority (R. v Kohn (1979) and R. v Morris [1984] applied).

 

Guilty

Wills, R v (1991) CA

^[Theft - belonging to another - property received under an obligation]
D and his two assistants were financial advisers. They received money from clients with instructions to invest it with an insurance company. They used the money for their business and they did not invest it as instructed. D was not present when the clients handed over the money and issued their instructions. D claimed he was unaware of the obligation under s 5(3) of the Theft Act 1968.
 
Held: it is necessary to prove that D had knowledge of the nature and extent of the obligation to deal with property in a particular way.
Farquharson LJ:

‘Whether a person is under an obligation to deal with property in a particular way can only be established by proving that he had knowledge of that obligation. Proof that the property was not dealt with in conformity with the obligation is not sufficient in itself.’

Not guilty

Woodman, R v (1974) CA 

 

^[Theft - belonging to another - possession or control]
D took scrap metal from a disused factory site. The occupiers of the site were unaware that the scrap metal was there. They had erected a barbed wire fence around the site to keep out trespassers. D claimed the scrap metal did not belong to another.
 
Held: A person has possession of any articles or property on his land even if he is not aware that that property exists or had forgotten that it exists. By having control of the site he has control of the property within (s 5(1)).
 

Guilty
 

Per curiam. If articles of serious criminal consequence, such as explosives or drugs, were placed within the barbed-wire fence by some third person in circumstances in which the occupier had no means of knowledge, it might produce a different result from that which arose under the general presumption.

 

Comment: If property is genuinely and honestly abandoned then it belongs to no one. It is not necessary to specify the owner in an indictment, property can be stolen from "a person or persons unknown".

 

 

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