R v Gullefer (Note)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date20 November 1986
Judgment citation (vLex)[1986] EWCA Crim J1120-1
Docket NumberNo. 1374/A/86
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Date20 November 1986
Ian John Gullefer

[1986] EWCA Crim J1120-1


The Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Lane)

Mr. Justice Kennedy


Mr. Justice Owen

No. 1374/A/86



Royal Courts of Justice

MR. I. COPEMAN appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

MR. V. ROBINSON, Q.C. appeared on behalf of the Crown.


This is the judgment of the Court. Mr. Justice Kennedy and Mr. Justice Owen are on circuit and accordingly are unable to be present.


On 26th February 1986 before the Crown Court at Snaresbrook the appellant was convicted of attempted theft and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.


The Judge certified that the case was fit for appeal on the ground that "a submission was made that the action alleged as constituting the attempt (as to which there was no dispute, because his action was filmed on video tape, which the jury and I saw) could not amount to an attempt to steal, even if the jury were satisfied that what the defendant did was done with the object of dishonestly receiving a sum of money equivalent to his stake from a bookmaker". He also appeals against sentence by leave of the single Judge.


The facts were as follows. On 5th March 1985 the appellant attended the Greyhound Racing Stadium at Romford. During the last race, as the dogs rounded the final bend, he climbed the fence onto the track in front of the dogs, waving his arms and attempting to distract them. His efforts were only marginally successful, and the stewards decided that it was unnecessary to declare "no race". Had they made such a declaration, by the rules the bookmakers would have been obliged to repay the amount of his stake to any punter, but would not have been liable to pay any winnings to those punters who would have been successful if the race had been valid.


When interviewed by the police the appellant said the reasons for his behaviour were partly that a year earlier he had lost a large bet at the stadium by reason of one of the stadium's staff leaning over the rails and distracting the dog on which he had gambled. He also admitted that he had attempted to stop the race because the dog on which he had staked £18 was losing. He hoped that by his actions the dogs would be distracted, that the stewards would declare "no race" and that he would therefore recover his stake from the bookmaker.


The perfected grounds of appeal contained four grounds. First, that the property which was the subject of the alleged attempted theft was not "property belonging to another" within the meaning of the Theft Act. Secondly, that even if the appellant had successfully completed his plan and had recovered the £18 from the bookmaker, that would not have amounted to an "appropriation of property belonging to another". Those two grounds of appeal were abandoned by Mr. Copeman at the outset of his submissions to this Court. In the light of our decision on the third ground of appeal, it is unnecessary for us to enquire whether that abandonment was proper.


The main burden of counsel's submission to us has been the third ground of appeal, namely that the acts proved to have been carried out by the appellant were not "sufficiently proximate to the completed offence of theft to be capable of comprising an attempt to commit theft".


We have been referred to a number of decisions, many of them of respectable antiquity, which show, if nothing else, the difficulties which abound in this branch of the criminal law. The present law is, however, now enshrined in the words of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.


Section 1 provides as follows: "If, with intent to commit an offence to which this section applies, a person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence, he is guilty of attempting to commit the offence."


Section 4(3) provides that: "Where, in proceedings against a person for an offence under section 1 above, there is evidence sufficient in law to support a finding that he did an act falling within subsection (1) of that section, the question whether or not his act fell within that subsection is a question of fact.


Thus the Judge's task is to decide whether there is evidence...

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20 cases
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    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 22 March 1999
    ...that `The offender must have crossed the Rubicon and burnt his boats`. The other is that propounded by Lord Lane in R v Gullefer [1990] 3 All ER 882. After rejecting Stephen`s test and the `Rubicon test`, his Lordship stated that the Act envisaged a `midway course`. A person can be said to ......
  • R v Jones (Kenneth Henry)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 3 April 1990
  • Attorney General's Reference (No. 1 of 1992)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 12 October 1992
    ...([1978] AC 55); Stephen's Digest of the Criminal Law (9th edition (1950) Chapter IV, article 29) and R v Gullefer (Note)WLR ([1990] 1 WLR 1063, 1066C-D) and said that, in their Lordships' opinion the trial judge was correct in the ruling which he gave at first and fell into error in reconsi......
  • Paul Charles Andrews v The Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary
    • United Kingdom
    • King's Bench Division
    • 12 December 2022
    ...that [22]: ‘ The locus classicus on the interpretation of section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 was provided by Lord Lane CJ in R v Gullefer [1990] 1 WLR 1063, 1066: “It seems to us that the words of the Act of 1981 seek to steer a midway course. They do not provide … that … the d......
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4 books & journal articles
  • Woollin: more on foresight and all that
    • Caribbean Community
    • Caribbean Law Review No. 9-1, June 1999
    • 1 June 1999
    ...36 As In the plane to Manchester example. 37 Walker & Hayles (1990) 90 Cr. App. R.226, at p. 230 per Lloyd L.J.; and see Gullefer [1990] 3 All E.R. 882, at p. 884 per Lord Lane C. J. 38 [1975] 2 All E.R. 193. 39 [1950] 1 AllE.R.720, at p. 724: cited with approval, e.g., by Lord Hailsham in ......
  • Recent Judicial Decisions
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    • Sage Police Journal: Theory, Practice and Principles No. 64-1, January 1991
    • 1 January 1991
    ...has the long standing authority of BankofEngland v. VaglianoBrothers [1891]A.C.l07and has been recently reaffirmedinR v.Gullefer(Note) [1990] 1 W.L.R.1063 - the report being a note appended to thiscase. Applied to the pointin issue that meantthat the'lastact test' was notestablished since t......
  • An Objectivist’s Account of Criminal Attempts
    • United Kingdom
    • Wiley The Modern Law Review No. 61-3, May 1998
    • 1 May 1998
    ...the defendant actually did and whether it was anattempt.20 See ibid, and Att-Gen Ref (No.1 1992) (1993) 96 Cr App R 298, and Gullefer [1990] 1 WLR 1063.21 The Law Commission regarded the right results as generally following in attempt cases because of the‘desirable coincidence of social pol......
  • Criminalizing Endangerment
    • United States
    • Louisiana Law Review No. 65-3, April 2005
    • 1 April 2005
    ...Code ' 241.1 commentary at 94 (Proposed Official Draft 1962). [7] Criminal Attempts Act, 1981, c. 47, ' 1(1) (U.K.); R. v. Gullefer, [1990] 1 WLR 1063 (on "attempt," marking the fact that in ordinary discourse attempts are attacks (The Model Penal Code (' 5.01) stretches the idea of attempt......

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