Law Unit 4 Case Cards - Theft

AQA Unit 4 Law Examination PM 23rd June.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 2 Dishonesty

R v Small (1987)

D took a car. He said he believed it was abandoned. It had been parked in the same place without being moved for two weeks. Also it appeared abandoned because the doors were unlocked, the keys were in the ignition, there was no petrol in the tank, the battery was flat and the windscreen wipers did not work.

Held: D was convicted but the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction as he was found to be not dishonest under s2(1)(c) of the Theft Act 1968.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 2 Dishonesty

R v Ghosh (1982)

A doctor was found to have claimed fees for an operation they he had not carried out. Arguing that the same amount of money was legitimately payable to him for consultation fees, he said he had not been dishonest. After the jury members were directed to apply their own standards to decide if what he did was dishonest.

Held: He was convicted upon appeal, the court decided that the correct test should be based on both an objective and subjective element. The Ghosh Test was established.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 3 Appropriation

R v Morris

The defendant had switched the price labels on items in a supermarket, giving lower prices to more expensive items. He then paid the lower prices. The courts had to determine whether, for the "assumption by a person of the rights of the owner" to be proved, the assumption had to be of all rights or whether it could be any rights.

Held: It was stated by the House of Lords that it was enough to prove "the assumption... of any of the rights of the owner of the goods" for an appropriation.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 3 Appropriation

R v Lawrence (1971)

An Italian student, who spoke little English, hired a taxi, showing the driver the address to which he wanted to go. He offered the driver £1 but the driver indicated that this was not enough, taking the £1 plus another £6 from the student's wallet.

Held: by both the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords that this amounted to appropriation.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 3 Appropriation

R v Gomez

Gomez was the assistant manager of a shop. He persuaded (consenting under deception) the manager to sell electrical goods worth over £17,00 to an accomplice and to accept payment by two cheques, telling the manager they were as good as cash. The cheques were stolen and had no value. Gomez was charged and convicted of theft of the goods.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction. They decided that the manager's consent to and authorisation of the transaction meant there was no appropriation at the moment of taking the goods.

The House of Lords then decided that this could amount to an appropriation of the goods. It did not matter that the owner had consented- the consent was obtained by fraud.

Held: The House of Lords ruled the issue of consent of the owner is entirely irrelevant to the issue of appropriation.


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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 3 Appropriation

R v Hinks (2000)

D persuaded a 53 year old man of limited intelligence to give her over £60,000 through "gifts". There was evidence that she had either coerced him, influenced him or encouraged him. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords upheld her conviction.

Held: There can still be an appropriation even through the owner truly consents to it. (Clarity of the decision in R v Gomez)

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 4 Property

Oxford v Moss (1979)

D, who had seen questions on an exam paper ahead of the actual exam, could not be held to have appropriated property as D did not take the examination paper but merely copied the questions from it.

Held: There was no appropriation of property as the examination paper was not taken, but if they had taken the paper it would have been Theft.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 3 Appropriation

R v Atakpu (1993)

The defendants hired cars in Belgium and Germany using false passports and driving licenses. They were arrested at Dover and charged with Theft. The Court of Appeal quashed their convictions because the moment of appropriation was when they obtained the cars. So the Theft had already occurred outside the jurisdiction of the English Courts. As they had already stolen the cars, keeping them and driving them could not be an appropriation. This meant that the Theft was completed in the country where they hired the cars, and there was not Theft in this country.

Held: The court supported the idea that the appropriation could be regarded as continuing. The jury is to decide whether the appropriation can continue for as long as the thief can sensibly be regarded as in the act of stealing or, so long as he is "on the job". (the principle of the continuing appropriation is more important for the offences of robbery and aggravated burglary).

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 4 Property

Attorney General of Hong Kong v Chan Nai-Keung (1987)

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.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 4 Property

R v Kohn (1979)

D, an accountant employed by a company to draw (write) cheques to pay the company debts, drew cheques on the company's account to meet his own personal liabilities.

Held: When D paid the cheque into his own account he appropriated property belonging to the company, the debt which the company's bank owed to the company.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 4 Property

R v Williams (2001)

D, who ran a building business, charged elderly people a modest sum for work and then, when he had gained their trust, he did more work at an inflated price. V;s paid by cheque. D was convicted of stealing the credit balance in V's accounts.

Held: D had appropriated property when he paid in the cheques to his bank account. (Also an issue of Fraud)

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 4 Property

R v Kelly (1998)

A human corpse cannot be owned and cannot be stolen. 

Held: Body parts are property and may be subject of Theft if they have acquired different attributes by virtue of the application of skill, such as dissection or preservation techniques, for exhibition or teaching purposes. (If organ donation is carried out against the will of the person it amounts to Theft)

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

R v Turner (No.2) (1971)

The defendant took his car to a garage to be repaired, having agreed to pay for the repairs when he collected the vehicle. The garage staff parked the car on the road outside their premises at the end of the day. During the night, the D used a spare key to remove the car without paying for the repairs.

Held: By the Court of Appeal that the garage was in possession and control of the car and therefore the defendant could be found guilty of stealing what was his own property. (Also an issue of Making Off Without Payment)

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

Attorney General's Reference (No.1) (1983)

An employer paid into an employee's bank account more salary then the employee was entitled to.

Held: By the Court of Appeal that the employee, having received the excess payment by her employer's mistake, was legally obliged to return it.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

R v Rostron and Collinson (2003)

A trespasser on a golf course was guilty of stealing lost golf balls from the secretary and club members. In this case the Ds retrieved lost golf balls for the purposes of resale, a lucrative business, from a lake and water features on a course. The issue was whether there was evidence that the balls were property belonging to another.

Held: Property will be regarded as abandoned only when the owner is indifferent as to what becomes of it. Leasing things on premises and forgetting them is not abandonment, neither is losing things and forgetting about them.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

R v Hall (1973)

Hall was a travel agent who received deposits from clients for air trips to America. D paid these deposits into the firm's general account, but never organised any tickets and was unable to return the money.

Held: He was convicted of Theft, but on appeal his conviction was quashed because when D received the deposits he was not under an obligation to deal with them in a particular way. The Court of Appeal did stress that each case depended on its facts.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

Davidge V Bunnett (1984)

D was held to be under an obligation to her fellow occupants of property from whom she had collected money to pay an electricity bill. She stole the money when she used it to buy presents.

Held: When she bought the presents she had appropriated property belonging to another.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

Lewis v Lethbridge (1987)

D was sponsored to run the London Marathon for charity. His sponsors paid the money to him but he did not hand it over to the charity.

Held: His conviction was quashed. The court did not find that there was any rule of the charity which required him to hand the actual cash over or to set up a separate fund for it. This meant that as against the charity he was not under an obligation to retain and deal with the property in a particular way. (This decision was criticised and disapproved of in R v Wain)

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 5 Belonging to Another

R v Wain (1995)

D kept sponsorship money which he had purported to obtain for a charity.

Held: D was said to be under an obligation to the charity in relation to the proceeds, namely, the credit arising in his own bank account when he paid the money into it.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 6 Intention to Permanently Deprive

R v Velumyl (1989)

The defendant took £1,050 from his employer's safe to lend to a friend just for the weekend, intending to pay back money to the same value when the friend had repaid him.

Held: He was judged guilty of Theft because he was not planning to replace the money with exactly the same notes or coins as he had taken.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 6 Intention to Permanently Deprive

R v LLoyd (1985)

The defendant took films from a cinema, copied them and replaced them. 

Held: This did not amount to Theft, as the films' goodness and practical value were unchanged.

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Theft - Theft Act 1968

Section 6 Intention to Permanently Deprive

R v Easom (1971)

The defendant picked up a woman's handbag in a cinema, looked inside and the replaced it without taking anything.

Held: He was not guilty of Theft.

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