Property Offences Law 04



Theft Act 1968

  • Dishonestly (2)
  • Appropriate (3)
  • Property (4)
  • Belonging to another (5)
  • Intention to permanently deprive (6)
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(Theft) Appropriation

Assuming the rights of the owner.

Taking, destroying, selling, consuming, treating property as your own. 

  • Pitman and Heyl- D sold furniture and assumed rights of owner
  • Morris- Switched price labels "anyone doing anything to property belonging to another appropriates it"
  • Lawrence- Taxi driver lied about fares. Dishonest so consent was irrelevant
  • Gomez- Persuaded selling of goods to accomplice. Consent meant no appropriation at time of taking goods
  • Hinks- D befriended man of low IQ. Reasonable person would accept gift to be irresponsible= appropriation

Later assumption = acquires property without stealing but decides to keep it instead of returning.

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(Theft) Property

Intangible, money, real, personal, things in action.

  • Kelly and Lindsay- Sculptor stole bodies from RCS. Bodies had undergone processes that made it personal property of college.
  • Clinton v Cahill- Heating can be stolen
  • Low and Blease- Electricity cannot be stolen 
  • Oxford v Moss- Knowledge cannot be stolen
  • AG HK v Chan Nei Keung- Export quotas intangible property that could be stolen

Things in action that can be stolen include: cheques, copyright, trademarks, tickets.

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(Theft) Belonging to another

Property belonging to another is to be in possession and control of another. 

  • Turner- D's car was in control of garage at time of appropriation so deemed belonging to another
  • Webster- Medals. Under moral obligation to make restoration in a particular way
  • Woodman- Scrap metal. May be guilty of theft even though not belonging to another if: trustee, under obligation, or by mistake
  • Klineberg and Marsden- Timeshares salesman. Under obligation to make restoration in particular way
  • Hall- Travel agent. Not under obligation to make restoration in particular way
  • Wain- Only exact amount of fundraising needed, not the same notes and coins etc.
  • Davidge and Bunnett- Used money given for bills to buy pressies. Intention to make legal contract = appropriation
  • AG's ref 1- Salary overpaid. Under obligation to make restoration
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(Theft) Dishonesty

No defintion of dishonesty, only situations in which dishonesty would not apply:

  • Right to deprive
  • Robinson- took money that had fallen from V, who owed him money
  • All reasonable steps
  • Small- Took abandoned car, having taken all steps to return to owner
  • Consent
  • Feely- had consent to take money from till at bookies

Ghosh Test

Larry locum, lied about consultancy fees.

1. Did D realise it was dishonest?

2. Would reasonable person have realise it was dishonest?

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(Theft) Intention to Permanently Deprive

Has to prove D had intention to permanently deprive

  • Velumyl- Had to return exact notes to not be considered permanent deprivation
  • Rafael and another- Took car and demanded payment for its return. Ruled to permanently deprive V
  • Lloyd- Cinema reels returned but ruled to not lose 'goodness and virtue' by taking. Not permanently depriving
  • DDP v Lavender- Council door removed and, though still of council property, appropraition deemd to permanently deprive
  • DPP v Huskinson- Legal obligation to make restoration when benefit money wasn't used for intended purpose
  • Easom- Conditional intent to deprive not enough to satisfy
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S8 Theft Act 1968

  • Steals
  • Immediately before or during 
  • Uses force on any person or seeks to put any person in fear of force 


  • Robinson- All elements of theft have to be complete, which they were not.
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(Robbery) Degree of force

Need to prove D seeked to use force but not that V was fearful

  • B & R v DPP- Schoolboys. Could still be held for robbery despite V not feeling threatened
  • Dawson and James- Smallest/slightest push can equal force
  • Smith and Desmond- Watchman. Force does not need to be against the person stolen from
  • Clouden- Force can be indirect
  • P v DPP- Force can be indirect. Cigarette
  • Cocoran v Anderton- Forcible tugging could not amount to an assumption of rights and used force.
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(Robbery) Immediately before or during

Force needs to be used immediately before or during the appropriation.

  • Hale- Force used against woman during theft, though not to directly aid theft. Deemed a continuous act
  • Lockley- Force was used to escape, though appropriation had taken place it was ruled to be of a continuous act. (Theft had been complete)
  • Vinall- D threatened V with knife, took bike but abandoned it. Force deemed to far from appropriation to count. 
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Theft Act 1968

  • Entry
  • Building/ part of building
  • Trespasser

D must know or be subjectively reckless to trespass. 

91A                                                                                                  91B                                           

Intention, on entry, to:                                                                      Intention, once entered to:

GBH                                                                                                 GBH

Steal                                                                                                 Steal

Criminal Damage

  • Conditional intent- D entering intending to steal but doesn't = 91A
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(Robbery) Elements


  • Collins- Effective and substantial entry
  • Brown- Effective entry (leaning through window)
  • Ryan- Questioned effective entry (stuck in window)


  • B & S Leathley- Freezer container with electric hook-up deemed a building
  • Norfolk Constabulary v Seekings and Gould- Lorry = vehicle as it has wheels
  • Walkington- Entered part of building not permitted to
  • Laing- Entered store room, though only permitted as a customer


  • Collins- Not trespassing if 1) D was unaware of trespassing 2) Reckless to consider trespassing
  • Smith and Jones- Not trespasser to Dad's house but did not have consent for taking TV
  • Barker v R- Consent to enter neighbour's house but not to steal
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S21 Theft Act 1968

  • A demand
  • Unwarranted
  • Made with menaces
  • With intention to cause gain or loss

GAIN- Keping what one might have or gaining what one has not

LOSS- Not getting what one might get or parting with what one has

* If D has genuine claim, he can still be guilty if he does not believe uses of menaces to be proper means

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(Blackmail) AR


Demand can be express or implied

  • Collister & Warhurst- Discussion of demand overheard and therefore implied. 
  • Treacy v DPP- Letter sent demand from UK to Germany. Demand at point of sending.
  • Harvey- Kidnapped and made unwarranted demands redgarding drug deal. Unwarranted unless D believed a) menaces to be proper means and b) reasonable grounds justified.
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(Blackmail) MR


Serious threat that has to be detrimental and unpleasant but not illegal.

  • Lawrence and Pomroy- V refused to pay for building work. D's demanded V come outside, later found to have a knife. Menaces a word to be understood by jury
  • Clear- Menaces must be of 'such a nature and extent that ordinary person of normal stability might be influenced or made apprehensive'. Not necessary to prove D was actually influenced.
  • Harry- D sent letters of demand to 115 shopkeepers, but 5/115 had problem with it. Deemed trivial menaces so not blackmail.
  • Garwood- Where a threat is made that wouldn't affect normal person, if D knows it to be a likely effect, D can still be charged.

*The fact D does not give into menaces does not impact D being found guilty

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(Blackmail) MR

Gain and loss

GAIN- Keping what one might have or gaining what one has not

LOSS- Not getting what one might get or parting with what one has

  • Bevans- Patient (gain) demanded and received morphine (property) from doctor (loss)
  • Parkes- Blackmail still valid despite demand for lawful debt
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False Representation

  • Makes representation 
  • False
  • Dishonestly
  • Knows and believes representation to be untrue
  • Intending to make loss or gain

Misleading- less than wholly true and capable of interpretation to the detriment of V

Representation can be express or implied S2 (3)

False if untrue/ misleading S2 (4)

Representation made to machines S2 (5)

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(Fraud) False Representation ar

Express intention

  • Silverman- Lied about costs to work, abuse of position.
  • Hamilton- Told V fences had not been paid for when, in fact, they had.

Implied intention

  • Barnard- Wore cap and gown (implied) and claimed to be fellow commoner of uni (express) to gain goods by credit
  • DPP v Ray- Change of mind = deception. Legging it after meal.
  • Gilmartin- Paid for supplies with post-dated cheque, knowing it would not be met. Represented having funds to pay.
  • Lambie- Did not return credit card and exceeded limit. Pecuniary advantage by deception.
  • MPC v Charles- No deception in using credit cheques because he knew bank would pay. Decption in knowing D wouldn't have the money and exceeded daily allowance.
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(Fraud) False Representation MR

Gain and Loss

Gain- Gain what one does not have or keep what one has

Loss- Not getting what one might have or parting with what one has

  • Kapitene EWCA Crim 2061- Illegal immigrant lied about legitimacy in work. Gain to D, loss to V
  • Laverty- Changed car regs. Changing representation of what car was which. Not necessary for P to be influenced or became suspicious. Intent to make gain or loss.  
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Obtaining Services Dishonestly AR

S11 Fraud Act 2006

Must be an act

Obtains Requires services were actually obtained, ulike fraud by false representation

ServicesUsing false credit card, climbing over wall to watch football game without paying, using false bus pass, lying about age, stolen decoder card for satellite TV

Not paid forOffence only committed if D does not pay anything, even if D has made false statement but pays full price, then he has not committed the offence

  • D only has to obtain service dishonestly. Not necessary to show he has deceived anyone.
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Making Off without Payment AR

S3 Theft Act 1978 brought in to tackle issues of Greenburg- D filled up car and had driven off without payment. Not guilty as, at time of appropriation, he had possession and had originally intended to pay.

Makes off

McDavitt- D had argument and refused to pay. Hid in toilets until police had arrived, where it was deemed he had not made off so no offence.

Goods Supplied

Troughton v Met Police- D was drunk and failed to tell taxi the address. Taxi dropped him at police station. Journey had not been completed so no obligation to pay

Payment on spot

Vincent- D had stayed at hotel and arranged with hotels to pay when he could. Payment on spot was not required so no conviction.

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Obtaining Services Dishonestly MR


Not defined by act but Ghosh test should apply

1. Would D's actions be considered dishonest by RM?

2. Did D realise they were being dishonest?


D must know services are (or might be) available on basis that payment is expected

Intention not to pay

Prosecution must prove D intended not to pay. If D thought someone else had paid, D would not be guilty

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Making Off Without Payment MR


Ghosh test

1. Was action deemed dishonest by RM?

2. Did D appreciate act was dishonest?

Knowledge of payment on the spot

If D does not know payment on the spot was required, he is not guilty of this offence

Intention to avoid payment

Allen- D owed £1000+ at hotel but claimed he genuinely intended to pay soon. Quashed conviction as not evidence he intended to avoid payment altogether

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Criminal Damage

Criminal Damage Act 1971

Basic offence = criminal damage

Basic offence + fire = arson

Basic offence + endangering life = aggravated criminal damage

Basic offence + endangering life + fire = aggravated arson

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Basic Offence AR

Destroy or damage

  • Property
  • Belonging to another

Costs time, money or effort = damage

Samuel v Stubbs- Unnecessary to establish damage that renders property useless.


  • Land can be damaged.
  • Intangible rights cannot be damaged.
  • Real property does not include fruit or foliage or wild plants and creatures

Belonging to another

Smith - D removed wiring and damaged fixtures. In civil law, this belonged to landlord. Lacked MR

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Basic Offence AR

Non permanent damage

Roe v Kingerlee - cleaning mud off walls meant damage was not permanent but still took effort.

Hardman v Chief Constable Avon and Somerset Police - soluble paint had been removed and took effort in doing so. Even though it would have washed away, it was considered damage.

Blake v DPP - Biblical quotes on pillar deemed damage.

Fiak - D put blanket in toilet, causing flooding and effort/ cost to cleaning.

Gayford v Chauler - Trampling on grass deemed damage. Even the slightest damage amount to offence.

Morphitis & Salmon - Scratch to scaffolding not ruled as damage because it was expected. Depends on type and purpose of property.

Computer Misuse Act 1990 - Criminal damage offence would not account for data damage.

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Basic Offence MR

  • Intention
  • Recklessly


Pembilton - D threw stones, intending to disperse crowd but broke window. No MR to damage

Seray White - Dr. wrote on parking notices, claimed he did not intend damage. Writing ruled with clear intention.


Caldwell - Ruled D was reckless if they created obvious risk of damage and had not given thought to possibility or recognised risk and carried on regardless

Elliott v C - Learning difficulties meant D would not have recognised risk but had to be convicted under Caldwell

Gemmel & Richards - Juveniles set fire to bin but fire didn't extinguish as they'd expected, resulting in £££ damge. Stated D could not be guilty unless he recognised and took risk.

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Basic Offence MR (Without Lawful Excuse) S5

  • Cannot be used for aggravated offences

S5 (2) A - Consent

Subjective test - Did D believe they had consent?

  • Denton - Conesent in setting fire to cotton mill under consent from boss for insurance claim.
  • Jaggard v Dickinson - D, drunk, damaged window in breaking into house believed to be friend's. Belief may be honestly held even if made by intoxication, stupidity or forgetfulness.

S5 (2) B - Belief other property was in immediate need of protection

eg. cutting down trees to prevent fire spread

  • Hunt - D set fire to duvet to attract attention to inadequate fire alarms. Property not in immediate damage, despite arguing proetection of people.
  • Cresswell & Currie - D damaged badger traps, arguing to protect badgers. Badgers not considered property so defence failed.
  • Baker v Wilkins - D broke door to house, believing daughter held there. Not to protect property
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Aggravated Criminal Damage S1 (2)

Destroy/ damage property by intention or recklessness, and intending/ reckless to endanger life.

Danger must come from damage

  • Steer - Shot fires at house, broke windows. Danger came from shots and not damage.
  • Webster - 3 D pushed stones from bridge and hit a train. Reckless or intention to smash through and endanger life = aggravated damage
  • Warwick - D rammed at police car. Doesn't matter if they actually cause damage, only that they were intending or reckless to endanger life.

Life not actually endangered

  • Life does not actually need to be in danger.
  • Sangha - Empty flat set alight. No risk but ruled if an ordinary bystander would have perceived obvious risk to life, D is guilty.

Own Property

  • Merrick - D left live wire exposed and, though nobody was harmed, damage was considered endangering to life. Would be the same had he been householder.
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Aggravated Offence MR

  • Intention/ recklessness to damage or destroy property.
  • Intention/ recklessness to whether life is endangered by destruction or damage.

Cooper - Test of Gemmell & Richards (did D realise risk?) confirmed when D set fire to hostel. Deemed reckless but quashed as Caldwell test deemed invalid.

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Arson S 1 (3) Criminal Damage Act 1971

Damaging property by fire

  • Basic offence - damage/ destruction by fire
  • Aggravated offence - damage/ destruction endangering life by fire

Denton - D set fire to cotton mill for insurance scam, under consent from owner.

Stephenson - Subjective test ruled schizophrenic would not appreicate risk of light to barn.

Gemmell & Richards - Set fire to bin and caused ££ damage. D not guilty unless perceived risk.

Sangha - Empty flat set alight. Ruled if ordinary person perceives risk to life, D is guilty.

Cooper - confirmed test of Gemmell and Richards when D set light to hostel.

Miller - Arson can be committed by omission in failing to prevent damage. Destroyed property.

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