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R v Moys [1984] 79 Cr App R 72

Handling stolen goods contrary to section 22(1) Theft Act 1968, mens rea, subjective test.

Facts

A black and white mare worth between £600-£700 was stolen from her livery stables. The defendant sold her the next day for £480 and she was subsequently recognised by her owner. The defendant was convicted of handling stolen goods contrary to section 22(1) Theft Act 1968 and he appealed against his conviction on the basis that the trial judge had misdirected the jury as to the requisite mental element for the offence.

Issues

To be convicted of the offence of handling stolen goods under section 22(1) Theft Act 1968, the jury must be satisfied that the defendant knew or believed the goods in question had been stolen, and that he acted dishonestly. The trial judge directed the jury that a strong suspicion on the part of a defendant together with a wilful shutting of the eyes to the facts amounts to the requisite belief in this context. This was a misdirection. The test as to whether a defendant knew or believed the goods to be stolen is subjective, and a mere suspicion that the goods were stolen even with a deliberate shutting of the eyes to the circumstances are insufficient to amount to a belief, although they may be taken into consideration by a jury when considering whether the defendant had the requisite knowledge or belief.

Held

The defendant’s convicted was quashed. The trial judge’s direction to the jury that a suspicion coupled with a deliberate shutting of the eyes amounted to a belief was a material misdirection. To handle stolen goods, a defendant must subjectively be aware of the theft or believe the goods to be stolen.


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