Sec 22 Theft Act 1968

A person handles stolen goods if otherwise than in the course of stealing, knowing or believing them to be stolen goods, dishonestly recieves the goods or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefits of another or arranges to do so.

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R v Pitchley 1972

Pitchley was given £150 by his son and asked to take care of it for a short time. Pitchley was told that it was winnings from betting. However, it was stolen money. Pitchley did not know at first, but found out two days later and still kept the money.

He was convicted of handling the money for retaining it on behalf of another.

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Mens Rea

  • The person must either know or believe the goods to be stolen and must act dishonestly
  • To commit this offence the goods must be stolen
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  • Goods include money and every other description of property except land, but it does include things severed from the land by stealing
  • The goods must be stolen but if the defendant believes them to be stolen (and they are not) then it may be an offence of attempt handling (R v Shivpuri)
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Stolen Goods

Goods obtained by:

  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Blackmail 
  • Goods stolen abroad (contrary to the law of that country and in circumstances that would constitute one of the above offences in England and Wales)

Stolen goods will include the original goods or parts of them and any other goods which represent the stolen goods in the hands of the thief or the handler (ex. proceeds obtained)

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Goods Ceasing to be Stolen

Goods cease to be stolen when:

  • When stolen goods are returned to the owner or the owner gives up or abandons their claim
  • When they are restored into other lawful custody or authority
  • Once stolen goods are recovered into police custody, they are no longer stolen. Police cannot use them to trap a person into handling them as stolen goods.
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Recent Possession

A person found in possession of recently stolen goods is presumed to either have stolen them or recieved them with guilty knowledge if the accused offers no explanation to account for the goods or when the court disbelieves any explanation given.

It is still necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the facts on which the presumption is made, i.e;

  • that the goods were recently stolen
  • that they were found in the accused's possession
  • that any explanation given by the accused which is believed to be untrue, and has been proved beyond reasonable doubt to be so
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