Category Archives: Law

Crime CCXX-Theft XXVIII

Appropriation of goods that are given to charity may also be considered as theft depending on where the goods were taken from. In Ricketts v Basildon Magistrates (2011), the defendant took some bags filled with items that were given to Oxfam and the BHF (the British Heart Foundation) intending to sell them at a car sale. The defendant was charged under the Theft Act 1968 and he was committed by the magistrates to the crown court.

It was held that taking items given to charity may be considered as theft depending on where they were taken from. The items that were given to Oxfam were taken from Oxfam bins which is the property of Oxfam and therefore the taking of those items constituted theft. The items given to the BHF were placed on their doorstep and therefore did not constitute theft. It the instance of the latter it could be argued that the items were abandoned.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXIX-Theft XXVII

Appropriation as far as section 3 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 is concerned requires direct physical action as opposed to remote triggering.

In R v Briggs (2004) the appellant convinced her uncle and aunty to move closer to her so that she could take better care of them. Her aunty and uncle accordingly sold the house and the appellant made an arrangement with the conveyancers to have the house purchased in her name and have the proceeds of the sale given to her aunty and uncle, contrary to their wishes. The aunty and uncle never intended for their niece to purchase their property. The defendant was charged and convicted of theft. The defendant appealed.

The appeal was allowed and the conviction for theft was substituted with a conviction for deception. Appropriation as far as section 3(1) of the Theft Act 1968 is concerned is more in line with a direct physical act as opposed to remote triggering, which was the case in this instance and therefore a conviction for deception would be more appropriate as opposed to a conviction for theft.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXVIII-Theft XXVI

With reference to section 6 (1) of the Theft Act (1968) the act of appropriating the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of what is rightfully theirs will be regarded as theft.

In R v Lavender (1994) the defendant removed some doors from council flats that were due for demolition and fixed them on his girlfriend’s flat. The defendant was charged and convicted.

The defendant had the intention of permanently depriving another of what was rightfully theirs and therefore was guilty of theft.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXVII-Theft XXV

In DPP v Gomez (1993) the defendant colluded with two others who had stolen a couple of cheques to purchase goods in the shop that he worked in. The defendant persuaded the manager of the shop to accept the cheques as payment for the goods the other two had purchased.

The cheques were dishonored and the defendant was charged. The defendant argued that the manager had consented to accepting the cheques as payment. The defendant appealed under section 3 (2) of the Theft Act 1968 which reads as follows:-

“Where property or a right or interest in property is or purports to be transferred for value to a person acting in good faith, no later assumption by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring shall, by reason of any defect in the transferor’s title, amount to theft of the property”

The House of Lords upheld the conviction and decided that appropriation could occur even when there is consent especially when there is a clear intention to defraud the rightful or legal owner.

Furthermore as per section 3 (2) of the Theft Act 1968 for there to be a legal transfer of title both parties need to be acting in good faith and in this instance neither the defendant nor those he was colluding with were acting in good faith.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXVI-Theft XXIV

With exception of section 2 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 (exceptions to dishonesty), whether a person’s conduct or actions are dishonest or otherwise is entirely dependent on what he believed at the time i.e. subjective.

In R v Holden (1991) the appellant worked for Kwikfit. He took some used tyres and was charged with theft and convicted. The appellant argued that he was only doing what other employees did and overlooked the fact that his employment contract expressly forbade him or prohibited him from taking any used items.

The conviction was quashed on appeal and it was decided that what amounts to dishonesty or otherwise is dependent on what the defendant believed at the time he committed the act.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXV-Theft XXIII

The fact that the defendant intended to return the property or the monies that he had taken is not a defense. The fact that it was wrongfully taken in the first place contrary to section 1 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 was sufficient to convict the defendant.

In R v Velumyl (1989) the appellant was a company director who took money out of the company safe. He was convicted for theft and he appealed on the grounds that he intended to return the money.

The conviction was upheld. It was sufficient that the appellant wrongfully took the money out of the company safe. The fact that he intended to return the money could not be used as a defense to stay a conviction for theft.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXIV-Theft XXII

The decision in A-G Ref (No 1 of 1983) (1985) was reinforced in R v Shadrokh-Cigari (1988) in that withdrawing money that had been mistakenly deposited in a bank account is regarded as appropriation falling within the scope and ambit of section 1(1) of the Theft Act 1968.

In R v Shadrokh-Cigari (1988) the bank mistakenly deposited £268,000 into a child’s account when the actual amount of the deposit should have been £268 and the guardian withdrew the money using bank drafts signed by the child. The guardian was charged with theft.

It was decided that the actions of the guardian were in breach of section 5 (2) of the Theft Act 1968 with regards to property subject to a trust and section 5 (4) of the Theft Act 1968 with regards to receiving property by mistake and that the defendant had an obligation to return the property to its rightful owner.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXIII-Theft XXI

Appropriation of abandoned items may not constitute theft even if the act of appropriation could be considered unreasonable. In R v Small (1987), the defendant was charged with the theft of a car that had been left parked with the keys in it.

The defendant argued that he thought the car had been left abandoned and the court accepted his argument.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the defendant could not be guilt of theft if at the time of the appropriation he honestly believed that the car had been abandoned and under the circumstances the owner could not have been deprived of it.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXII-Theft XX

Paying less for an item than what it is worth or than what it retails at could also constitute theft. In R v Morris, Anderton  and Burnside (1983) the defendants were arrested for switching the price tags on items in a supermarket and paying a lower price. The defendants were tried, convicted and appealed.

The House of Lords upheld the convictions. It was decided that dishonest appropriation of property under s.1(1) of the Theft Act (1968) includes paying a lower price for an item especially if it was induced by fraud. The appropriation took place as soon as the labels were switched and there was an attempt to usurp the rights of the owner.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward