R v Ngan

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date11 July 1997
Date11 July 1997
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)

Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

Before Lord Justice Leggatt, Mr Justice Ian Kennedy and Mr Justice Collins


Theft - appropriation outwith jurisdiction - mistaken credit balance - presentation of cheque is appropriation

Appropriation outwith jurisdiction

A person who, knowing that money had been mistakenly paid into her bank account in England, signed blank cheques on that account and sent them to her sister in Scotland, did not in so doing commit an act of appropriation within the jurisdiction.

She was, however, guilty of an offence against English law when one of the cheques which necessarily drew upon the mistaken credit balance was brought back to England and presented for payment there. The act of theft was the presentation of the cheque.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, so held when allowing in part the appeal of Sui Soi Ngan against her conviction by a majority on December 19, 1996 at Southwark Crown Court (Judge Laurie and a jury) of three counts of theft.

Conviction on two of the counts, relating to cheques which were presented in Scotland, were quashed. Her appeal against conviction on the third count, which related to a cheque presented for payment in England, was dismissed. Her appeal against a sentence of two years detention in a young offender institution was allowed and a sentence of 15 months was substituted.

Section 3 of the Theft Act 1968 provides: "(1) 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."

Ms Lauren Soertsz, assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals, for the appellant; Mr Peter Gray for the Crown.

LORD JUSTICE LEGGATT, giving the reserved judgment of the court, said that the outcome of the appeal depended upon whether or not, as an ingredient of the thefts, the appellant had committed an act of appropriation within the jurisdiction.

As a condition of her employment she opened an account on August 11, 1995 with a London branch of Barclays Bank. The account number allocated to her had previously been that of a debt collection agency.

Several payments intended for the agency were paid into the account by mistake, amounting to a total of £77,767.25p. Payments were also made for the credit of the account from the appellant's employers and small withdrawals were made from time to time...

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2 cases
  • Bovell-Swanson v R
    • Cayman Islands
    • Grand Court (Cayman Islands)
    • 5 November 2010
    ...(11) R. v. McKennaUNK(1956), 40 Cr. App. R. 65, followed. (12) R. v. MunneryUNK(1990), 94 Cr. App. R. 164, applied. (13) R. v. Ngan, [1998] 1 Cr. App. R. 331, referred to. (14) R. v. Williams, [2001] 1 Cr. App. R. 23; [2001] Crim. L.R. 253, referred to. (15) Tuck v. Vehicle Inspectorate, [2......
  • R v Lawrence Gresham
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 25 June 2003
    ...That remained separately to be proved: see 189H to 190A. It is useful at this point to consider the case of Sui Soi Ngan [1998] 1 Cr App R 331. There payments over �77,000 had been mistakenly credited to the defendant's bank account. The defendant drew blank cheques on the account which she......
1 books & journal articles
    • United Kingdom
    • Journal of Money Laundering Control No. 4-2, April 2000
    • 1 April 2000
    ...(27) David.Orr, The Scotsman, 4th December, 1998. (28) The Australian, 11th November, 1998. (29) The Times, 28th August, 1999. (30) [1998] 1 Cr App R 331 (CA). (31) [1929] KB 743. (32) [1951] AC 507. (33) [1994] 1 AC 324. (34) Rule 27(20), Dicey and Morris, 12th ed, p. 348. (35) See Law Com......

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