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Robbery is an offence under s8 of the Theft Act 1968. In effect it is a theft which is aggravated by
the use of force or by the threat of force.
"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."
1. There must be a completed theft for a robbery to have been committed.
ROBINSON (1977) Robinson ran a clothing club and was owed £7 by the victim's wife.
Robinson approached the victim and threatened him. During a struggle the man dropped a £5 note.
Robinson took it, claiming that he was still owed £2. His conviction for robbery was quashed
because the trial judge had wrongly directed the jury that Robinson had honestly to believe he was
entitled to get money in that way. In fact if a defendant has a genuine belief that he had a right in law
to the money (when it was dropped), then his actions were not dishonest.
2. Where force is used to steal, then the moment the theft is complete
there is a robbery.
CORCORAN v ANDERTON (1980) One of the defendants hit a woman in the back and
tugged at her bag. She let go of the bag and it fell to the ground. The defendants ran off without the
bag (because the woman was screaming and attracting attention). The Court held that the theft was
complete at the moment the woman let go of the bag so the defendants were guilty of robbery.
3. Force or threat of force the amount of force used can be small.
DAWSON and JAMES (1976) One of the defendants pushed the victim causing him to lose his
balance which enabled the other defendant to take his wallet. They were convicted of robbery. The
Court of Appeal held that the word `force' was an ordinary word and that it was for the jury to
decide if force had been used. Conviction upheld.
CLOUDEN (1987) The Court of Appeal held that Clouden was guilty of robbery because he
had wrenched a shopping basket from the victim's hand. He would not be guilty of robbery if he had
only snatched the basket from the victim's lap. However, a defendant would be guilty of robbery if
he used threatening words or gestures to put the victim in the fear of being then and there subjected
4. Force immediately before or at the time of the theft
HALE (1979) The two defendants knocked on the door of a house. When a woman opened
the door they forced their way into the house. One defendant out his hand over her mouth to stop
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He took a
jewellery box. Before they left the house they tied up the householder.
On appeal the defendants argued that the theft was complete as soon as the second defendant
picked up the jewellery box, so the use of force in tying up the householder was not at the time of
stealing. However, the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions for robbery.…read more