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GDL Law Notes GDL Criminal Law Notes

Theft Related Offences Notes

Updated Theft Related Offences Notes

GDL Criminal Law Notes

GDL Criminal Law

Approximately 551 pages

A collection of the best GDL notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through applications from top students and carefully evaluating each on accuracy, formatting, logical structure, spelling/grammar, conciseness and "wow-factor". In short these are what we believe to be the strongest set of GDL notes available in the UK this year. This collection of GDL notes is fully updated for recent exams, also making them the most up-to-date GDL study materials ...

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Theft & Related Offences



S.1(1) Theft Act 1968: A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with intent to deprive the other permanently of it


Property has a wide meaning including real, personal and intangible property

  • The human body

    • R v Rothery - blood sample stolen constituted property

    • R v Kelly - Stolen urine sample constituted property

  • Things in action

    • R v Kohn Credit stolen constituted property

  • Information as property?

    • Oxford v Moss

Taken exam paper from tutor’s office and took photos

Held: did not come within S.4 as property

  • Land: cannot be stolen but rather obtained by deception

    • S.4 Theft Act

  • Wild animals

    • S.4(4) Theft Act – wild creatures ‘shall be regarded as property; but a person cannot steal a wild create not tamed nor ordinarily kept in captivity

Actus Reus


S.3(1) Theft Act: Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an appropriation, and this includes, where he has come by the property (innocently or not) without stealing it, any later assumption of a right to it by keeping or dealing with it as owner

Theft by keeping

Broom v Crowther

D purchased stolen item unknowingly – he told the police immediately once he found out

Held: conviction quashed for theft as he couldn’t be described as ‘ owner’ once he knew it was stolen. Thus he hadn’t appropriated stolen property

This has been codified:

S.3(2) Theft Act: Where property or a right or interest in property is or purports to be transferred for value to a person acting in good faith, no later assumption by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring shall, by reason of any defect in the transferor's title, amount to theft of the property

Appropriation & consent

R v Lawrence

London taxi driver took 6 more than he should from a customer’s wallet who had handed it out to him with a note as he couldn’t speak English

Held: (HL) was this appropriation? The wallet was handed over voluntarily. Here they stated that consent was irrelevant.

HOWEVER: the Theft Act was based on a Law Commission report which predicated theft on lack of consent.

R v Skipp

Stealing oranges that were supposed to be delivered somewhere but he was planning to take them from the moment they came into his possession for delivery

Held: appropriation occurred when he went off-course, not when he possessed them first

R v Morris

Swapping labels on meat in a supermarket to pay less

Held: (HL) completely contradicting Lawrence, they held that appropriation is pejorative. There must be usurpation of the owner’s rights. If there is implied or express consent then there is no theft.

  • "The concept of appropriation ...involves not an act expressly or impliedly authorised by an owner but an act by way of adverse interference with or usurpation of the owner's rights"

R v Gomez

Mr. Gomez was the assistant manager in an electrical store who had acted with others to make money off some building society cheques which they tricked people into giving them.

The question for the House was:

"When theft is alleged and that which is alleged to be stolen passes to the defendant with the consent of the owner, but that consent has been obtained by a false representation, has (a) an appropriation within the meaning of section 1(1) of the Theft Act 1968 taken place ,or (b) must such a passing of property necessarily involve an element of adverse interference with or some usurpation of some right of the owner?"

Held: (4 to 1) it is unnecessary to show any usurpation of the owner’s interests. It can be any taking or dealing with another’s property

  • This effectively diminishes the meaning of ‘appropriation’ which is now any dealing, and theft can only be determined by fault

  • Lord Keith: "In my opinion it serves no useful purpose at the present time to seek to construe the relevant provisions of the Theft Act by reference to the report which preceded it, namely the 8th Report of the C.L.R.C. The decision in Lawrence's case was a clear decision of this House upon the construction of the word `appropriates' in section 1(1) of the 1968 Act, which had stood for 12 years when doubt was thrown upon it by obiter dicta in Morris. Lawrence's case must be regarded as authoritative and correct, and there is no question of it now being right to depart from it."

  • Lord Lowry (dissenting): "The act of appropriation is a one-sided act, done without the consent or authority of the owner. And, if the owner consents to transfer property to the offender or to a third party, the offender does not appropriate the property, even if the owner's consent has been obtained by fraud."

This overrules Skipp and Morris

R v Gallasso

Registered nurse who paid in cheques for patients and then relied on their bank accounts

Held: (CA) unaware of Gomez, that there needs to be some kind of actual taking. This is now overruled.

Gifts & theft

R v Mazo

D was a maid to Lady S, who received cheques totalling 37k from her. There was a question about the validity of the gifts

Held: no conviction as there was a lack of certainty about the mens rea of the donor – however what is the exact nature of this crime? If found guilty it could be either fraud or theft

Hopkins and Kendrick

D ran an old peoples home where V lived. They were charged with the theft of her money as they had named themselves beneficiaries, prevented family from visiting her and badly dealt with her shares.

Held: the question mark over consent for the gifts made receipt dishonest & liability for theft found

  • Counsel argued colourfully about the difference between ill-advised gifts and theft however: "if a sane and wealthy woman, persuaded by reading the Bible that she should give her property to e of the poor, goes down the street and gives her Rolex to the first seller of The Big Issue that she meets, it is submitted that he cannot be guilty of...

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