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OBTAINING PROPERTY BY DECEPTION
DPP v Ray  AC 370
The defendant had ordered a meal in a restaurant and had consumed it with an
honest state of mind. He then discovered that he was unable to pay for the meal
and remained silent as to his change in circumstances. The defendant waited
until the dining area was clear of waiters before running out. The defendant was
convicted under s16(2)(a) of the Theft Act 1968 (now replaced by the Theft Act
The House of Lords held that the defendant had exercised a deception by
remaining seated in the restaurant having decided not to pay. His remaining in
this position created the implied and continuing representation that he was an
honest customer who intended to pay the bill, thus inducing the waiters to leave
the dining area unattended, giving him the opportunity to run off without
R v Collis-Smith  Crim LR 716
The defendant had put petrol into his car and then falsely told the attendant
that his employer would be paying for the petrol. The defendant’s appeal against
conviction under s15 was successful in the Court of Appeal on the basis that his
deception did not arise until after the property in the petrol had passed to
him. (Note: today, the appropriate charge in such a case would be an offence
under s2 Theft Act 1978.)
R v Coady  Crim LR 518
The Court of Appeal quashed the defendant’s conviction for obtaining petrol
at a self-service station by the deception that he was authorised to charge the
petrol to the account of his former employer, which he was no longer entitled to
do. The fatal flaw in the prosecution case was that it was clear that the
defendant had informed the cashier that the petrol should be charged to the
account only after he had got the petrol.
The court was sceptical about the wider representation that when the
defendant drove onto the forecourt he represented an intention to pay which he
did not in fact possess. This was alleged to be inconsistent with the
indistinguishable case of Collis-Smith (1971).
MPC v Charles  AC 177
The defendant had drawn cheques on his account, supported by his cheque
guarantee card, in order to buy gaming chips at a casino. The manager of the
casino had given evidence that questions of creditworthiness did not arise where
a valid cheque guarantee card was proffered.
Nevertheless, the House of Lords affirmed the defendant’s conviction under
s16(2)(b) of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception. The House of Lords
accepted that use of a cheque and a cheque card implied authority to do so, and
that it was to be assumed that the casino would not have accepted the cheques as
supported by the guarantee card, had the truth been known, ie that the defendant
had exceeded his authorised limit.
R v Lambie  AC 449
The defendant used her own credit card knowing that authorisation had been
withdrawn. She was convicted of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception
from her bank under s16(2)(b).
The conviction was upheld by the House of Lords on the basis that if the shop
assistant had known the truth she would not have accepted the credit card in
payment, hence the use of the card was an operative deception. The defendant
could of course, call the retailer to give evidence that she was quite happy to
accept the credit card in full knowledge of the defendant’s lack of authority,
but the retailer is unlikely to want to run the risk of becoming an accomplice
to the defendant’s fraud on the credit card company.
R v Goodwin  Crim LR 262
The Court of Appeal held that the defendant had rightly been convicted of
going equipped for theft (contrary to s25 Theft Act 1968) when the evidence
showed that he had used Kenyan 5 shilling coins (coins of the same size, shape
and weight as 50p coins but of about half the value) to play gaming machines in
an amusement arcade. The defendant knew full well that he was trying to obtain
the prize coins in a way which he knew would not have the machine owner’s
R v Ghosh  QB 1053
The defendant was a consultant at a hospital. He falsely claimed fees in
respect of an operation that he had not carried out. He claimed that he thought
he was not dishonest by his standards because the same amount of money was
legitimately payable to him for consultation fees. The defendant’s conviction
under s15 was affirmed by the Court of Appeal.
(See Handout on Theft.) On the basis of the court’s decision, the jury,
applying their own standards, must judge the defendant’s actions and beliefs and
decide whether he was honest or dishonest. If the jury find that according to
their standards he was dishonest, they must then establish whether the defendant
knew that ordinary people would regard such conduct as dishonest.
OBTAINING A PECUNIARY ADVANTAGE BY DECEPTION
R v Clarke  Crim LR 824
The defendant, a private investigator, allegedly told V (a group of people
who had been defrauded) that he was a former fraud squad officer and a court
bailiff. In consequence, he was engaged to trace funds belonging to them.
Initially, D maintained not only that he did not make the representations but
also that he was not dishonest since he believed he could do the work, intended
to do so, and eventually did so. He changed his plea to guilty after the judge
indicated that he considered the offence committed if D made the
representations, they were false and that V engaged him as a result of those
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and quashed the conviction. The
judge’s indication inevitable implied that it was necessarily dishonest to tell
lies to obtain employment, no matter what D’s explanation for the lies or more
general explanation for his conduct. This was unduly restrictive and the jury
should have been given the opportunity to consider the issues.
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