Theft Act and Cases


Theft Act 1968

  • A person is guilty of theft if they:
    • Dishonestly
    • Appropriate
    • Property
    • Belonging to another
    • With intention of permanently depriving the other of it
  • Sections 2-7 define these terms
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ACTUS REUS- Appropriates

Assumption is any of the rights of a owner (not just taking something)

  • Pitham v Hehl - D sold V's property and was guilty of theft
  • Morris - switched price labels, assumed rights
  • Lawrence - Taxi driver overcharged by £5
  • Gomezstolen cheques that bounced, even with owenr's consent the purchase was thief
  • Hinks - low IQ, gift was valid as he understood the value
  • Atakpu and Abrahams - Appropriation took place at one point in time, outside of English jurisdiction - not guilty.
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ACTUS REUS - Property

Money and all property real or personal, including things in action (e.g. money)

  • Kelly and Lindsay - a corpse's parts can be property
  • Oxford v Moss - takes exam papers, but not guilty as the university still had the same exact papers

Things that cannot stolen:

  • Wild flowers, foliage and fungi
  • Wild creatures, unless reduced into the possession of another
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ACTUS REUS - Belonging to another

Any person in possession or control, or with a proprietary interest

  • Turner No 2 - D stole his own car
  • Woodman - V did not know of their possession, but D still guilty
  • R v Basildon - D tooks bags from the front and bin of a charity shop. Guilty because donor and shop owned it.
  • Webster - D was given two medals and sold one. Guilty.
  • Hall - D had no immediate obligation to deal w money
  • Klineberg and Marsden - only £233 of £500000 paid in.
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ACTUS REUS - Belonging to another PT 2

  • Davidge and Bunnet - D used rent money given to her to buy Christmas presents
  • AG Ref (1 of 1983) - D did not give £74 back after being overpaid, guilty.
  • Gilks - D knew he'd been overpaid on a bet, didnt return it. Bets are not legally binding, he was not guilty
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MENS REA - Dishonestly

The motive is not relevant, (lack of) consent/permission is:

Behaviour that is not dishonest:

  • if the defendant believes they have th right to deprive the other of it
  • if they believe they would have the victim's concent
  • if the person who owns the property is unknown, and cannot be found by taking reasonable steps
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MENS REA - Dishonestly Pt 2


  • Ghosh - D claimed fees for operations he did not perform, but to the same value of what he did. Ghosh test: objective and subjective test
  • Ivey - deemed Ghosh test old law, only the objective test is relevant, even if D does not think they are being dishonest
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MENS REA - Intention of Permanently Depriving

Even if it is replaced by something similar, it is the specific property that is concerned

  • Velumyl - D permanently deprived V of the specific notes
  • Zerei - As D only took the car a short distance, he was not guilty of theft
  • DPP v Lavender - D took council flat door to another council flat. Guilty as he deprived the council of the use
  • Lloyd - projectionist lent a film to D to copy. It was not permentnely deproved, so there was no theft
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Appropriation - too wide a definition and scope

Assumption at one point in time - Fraud Act 2006 contradicts this

Theft of gifts - unclear under Gomez

Conflict of Civil and Criminal law - Hinks

Dishonesty is difficult to understand

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