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5.3 Property Offences Lecture

The following question will test out what you have just learned and give you the chance to put your new legal skills to the test!

Read over the scenario and try and identify the material facts and legal issues. It might help to highlight these and make notes as you go. If you’re feeling confident then try and put together an answer to the question. Everything you need to answer the question has been covered already in this unit so referring back to the notes will help you a lot!

If you aren’t ready to produce your own answer just yet, then no need to worry. These types of questions take practice and if this is your first attempt then it’s bound to be a little tricky. A step by step outline answer is set out below provided below which contains guidance for you and you can use this to try and build your own answer or use it to check the answer you have already produced.

Giles is on his way to a job interview but as he walks out of the house he realises it is raining. He sees his neighbour Jackie has left a bright pink umbrella by her gate so he picks it up to borrow for the day intending to return it later. He is sure that Jackie would be fine with this as they are good friends.

The rain gets so heavy that Giles calls for a taxi. He gets in and provides the address of the office he will be going to. When the taxi pulls up, the driver informs Giles that the meter says the fare will be £10. Giles looks in his pocket for his wallet, realises he does not have the money and cannot pay the fee so quickly runs out of the taxi and out of sight before the driver is able to react.

Shaken by the experience, Giles decides he better not risk being caught without cash again today. He sees a lady walking by on her phone and notices her purse is sticking out slightly from her pocket. He quickly grabs the purse but the lady grabs his arm as he tries to get away. He shoves her hard and runs off.

When Giles gets to the interview he is asked to wait in reception for the interviewers to call him. He sees a door marked ‘store room’ and is intrigued. He checks the receptionist is not looking and he goes in to have a look and when he gets inside he sees a stash of new iPhones waiting to be handed out to the employees as their new company phones. Giles has wanted an iPhone for ages and decides that he is not confident he will get the job so the best thing to do would be to take one now just in case. He checks no one has seen him and then puts one in his bag.

Later that day Jackie returns home and is furious that her umbrella has been taken. She has stated in evidence that she would not have allowed Giles to use it if she had known as it was a gift from her boyfriend and she is very attached to it.

Identify any possible offences committed by Giles and apply relevant law to determine his potential liability.

Umbrella

  • Possible theft as per s.1 Theft Act 1968
  • Actus reus

-Appropriation

Applying s3(1) of the Act it is evident that Giles assumes the rights of the owner Jackie by using the umbrella, an application of Morris shows that he does not need to assume all of her rights and simply using it will suffice.

-Property

In this case the umbrella fits the s.4(1) definition of personal property.

-Belonging to another

Applying s5(1) of the Act, the umbrella clearly belongs to Jackie and she has possession and control of it at the time Giles takes it. Discuss the possibility that the umbrella has been abandoned but apply Ricketts to show that it is highly unlikely the umbrella could be classed as abandoned simply because she left it outside her house.

  • Mens rea

-Dishonest

Starting with the set situations in s..2 of the Act it can be seen on the facts that s.2(1)(b) of the Act is applicable as Giles believes that Jackie would understand and allow him to us the umbrella. There is no need therefore to apply Ghosh here.

It does not matter that this belief is mistaken and that Jackie did not want Giles to use the umbrella.

-Intention to permanently deprive

It is evident that Giles did not intend to permanently deprive Jackie of the umbrella as he was only borrowing it for a short time. Under s.6 of the Act the borrowing for the day will likely be held not to be equivalent to an outright taking.

  • No mens rea is therefore present and Giles will not be liable for the theft of the umbrella

Taxi

  • Possible offence of making off without payment as per s.3 Theft Act 1978
  • Actus reus

-Makes off

Giles runs away from the taxi

-Without payment

Giles does not give the taxi driver any money for the service

-Payment required on the spot

Apply s.3(2) of the Act and in doing so, distinguish the case Aziz as in this instance the fare was due to the taxi driver there and then.

-Goods or services

The taxi ride can qualify as a service done as does not fall within the s.3(3) illegal exemption. Aziz could be used as authority here.

  • Mens rea

-Knowledge that payment is required on the spot: Giles is informed by the driver he must pay

-Dishonesty: apply Ghosh- was it dishonest according to the standards of reasonable and honest people and did Giles know this? It is likely this is satisfied.

-Intention to avoid payment: Giles ran off intending not to pay

  • Likely Giles will be liable for making off without payment.

Purse

  • Possible robbery under s8 Theft Act 1968
  • Actus reus

-Theft: s.1 Theft Act 1968, dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it. There is no need to go too in depth with this as this is not the legal issue here. 

-Uses force on any person

This is clearly evident on the facts and is satisfied by Giles’ pushing the lady.

-Immediately before or at the time of stealing

Upon a strict construction of the facts the appropriation had occurred prior to Giles expending any force however Hale sets out that the appropriation is a continuing act and it will be up to the jury to determine when it finishes. It is likely they will hold the appropriation to be ongoing in this instance.

-In order to steal

By pushing the lady in order to get away Giles is doing this to allow him to complete the theft and permanently deprive her of the property and therefore does so in order to steal.

  • Mens rea

-The mens rea for theft must be established here. That is that Giles acted dishonestly with the intention to permanently deprive. Apply Ghosh and state that it is clear from the facts presented that Giles intended to use the money and threw the purse away, two acts that have the effect of permanently depriving the owner of the purse.

  • It is likely therefore that Giles will be guilty of the robbery of the purse

iPhone

  • Potential burglary
  • Section 9(1)(b) is the relevant provision as the intention to steal does not arise until Giles is already in storeroom.
  • Actus reus

- Enters

Following an application of Brown and Ryan it can be seen that by Giles physically going in the room his entry will be sufficient.

-A building or part of a building

It is likely that the store room will be classed as part of a building following an application ofWalkington as it was physically separated from the reception with a door and sign.

-As a trespasser

Following Collins,he has no permission to be in the store room so this will be classed as a trespass.

-Attempts to or does indeed steal or commit grievous bodily harm

The relevant offence here is theft of the iPhone. Apply s.1 of the Theft Act 1968 to determine that the theft occurs.

  • Mens rea

-Knowing or being reckless as to trespassing

It is clear from the facts that Giles knows he shouldn’t be in there as he checks first that the receptionist is not looking.

- Dishonest and intention to permanently deprive

Apply Ghoshin relation to dishonesty and then state from the facts it is clear that Giles intended to keep the iPhone thus satisfying this.

  • It is likely therefore that Giles will be liable for the burglary under s.9(1)(b) of the Act

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