Revision notes for theft, including cases and statute.

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Detailed notes made from Ms trumble PPT and research.
THEFT is defined in s1 of the Theft Act 1968 which states that: A person is guilty of theft if he
dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently
depriving the other of it.
DISHONESTLY (part of the mens rea)
S2 ­ dishonestly ­ there is no definition of what is meant by `dishonesty' in the Theft Act but it is
clear that if all elements of the theft are present, the motive of the defendant is not relevant.
However, the Act makes it clear that the `appropriation' of property will not be regarded as theft if
(a) the defendant has a legal right to the property, (b) the other person would have consented to the
appropriation, or (c) the person to whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by taking
reasonable steps.
The Ghosh test
GHOSH (1982) was a doctor acting as a locum consultant in a hospital. He claimed fees for an
operation he had not carried out. He said that he was not dishonest because he was owed the same
amount by the hospital for consultation fees. The trial judge directed the jury that they must apply
their own standards to decide if what Ghosh did was dishonest. He was convicted and appealed
against the conviction.
The Court of Appeal set out a twopart test to be used in assessing the honesty or dishonesty of a
defendant. The Ghosh test has both an objective element and a subjective element. These are:
Was what was done dishonest according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest
Did the defendant realise that what he was doing was dishonest by those standards (the
standards of reasonable and honest people)?
The Ghosh test means that the jury have to start with an objective test. Was what was done
dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people? If the act would not be
regarded as dishonest by these people, that is the end of the matter and the prosecution fails. The
defendant is not guilty. However, if the jury decide what it was dishonest by those standards, they
must then decide whether the defendant knew it was dishonest by those standards. The second test
is not totally subjective because the defendant is judged by his knowledge of what those ordinary
standards were. This prevents a defendant from saying that, although he knew ordinary people
would regard his actions as dishonest, he did not think those standards applied to him.
In a trial the judge will use the Ghosh test to direct the jury only where there is an issue about
APPROPRIATION (part of the actus reus)

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S3 ­ appropriates ­ the important words in s2 are `any assumption by a person of the rights of the
owner amounts to an appropriation'. The rights of the owner including selling the property or
destroying it as well as such things as possessing it, consuming it, using it, lending it or hiring it out.
So for there to be an appropriation, the thief must do something that assumes (takes over) one of the
owner's rights.…read more

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Hinks accompanied the man on numerous occasions to his building society where he
withdrew money. The total was about £60.000 and this money was deposited in Hinks' account.
The man also gave Hinks a television set. The judge directed the jury to consider whether the man
was so mentally incapable that Hinks herself realised that ordinary decent people would regard it as
dishonest to accept a gift from him. Hinks was convicted of theft of the money and of the TV set.…read more

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Other intangible property refers to other rights that have no physical presence but which
can be stolen under the Theft Act. For example, a patent (the right to an original invention)
can be stolen.
However, there are some types of intangible property that do not come within the definition
of Theft.…read more

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Turner used a spare key to take the car during the night without paying for
the repairs. The Court of Appeal held that the garage was in possession or control of the car and so
Turner was found guilty of stealing his own car.
Property received under an obligation
There are many situations in which property (usually money) is handed over to the defendant in the
basis that the defendant will keep it for the owner or will deal with it in a particular way.…read more

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EASOM (1971) ­ Easom picked up a handbag in a cinema, rummaged through the contents and
then replaced the handbag without having taken anything. His conviction for theft of the handbag
was quashed. There was no evidence that the defendant had intended permanently to deprive the
owner of the handbag or items in it so he could not be guilty of theft. A conditional intent to steal is
not sufficient to support a charge of theft.…read more


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