Recent Judicial Decisions

AuthorJohn Wood
Published date01 April 1992
Date01 April 1992
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/0032258X9206500210
Subject MatterArticle
PROFESSOR
SIR
JOHN
WOOD, CoB.E., L.L.M.,
The
University
of
SheffieldLegalCorrespondent
of
thePoliceJournal
RECENT JUDICIAL DECISIONS
USE OF STOLEN CHEQUE
Rv. Gomez
[1991] 1 W.L.R. 1334 Court of Appeal
Aman calledBallayaskedGomez,theassistantmanagerof a shopselling
electrical goods,
if
he would supply goods in exchange for two stolen
cheques. He agreed todo so. In so doing he deceived his manager, who
hadtoldhim, beforeacceptingthecheques,to checkthatthey werevalid.
Goodsto the valueof about £8,000were suppliedto
BaUay
oneachof the
cheques. Gomezwas given'a reward' of a washingmachine. Gomezwas
convictedon one charge of theft and pleaded guilty to another. He was
sentencedtotwoyears' imprisonmentoneachaccount, torun concurrently.
Onappealalegal point,raisedand rejectedat thetrial,wasreliedupon.
It
was accepted that the removalof the goods had been allowedbecause
of fraudulent statementsmade by the appellant to the shop manager,but
since he had been authorized to sell the goods there had been no
appropriation, so as to constitute an essentialelement of theft.
Thecentral pointofthe argument had beenraisedin the
appeal
courtsas
earlyasfouryearsafterthepassing oftheTheftAct. InRv.
Lawrence
[1972]
AC. 626thequestion was raised
whether
thenew legislation stillrequired
thegoodstopass 'withoutthe consent oftheowner'. The factsconcerned a
taxidriverwhodeceived anItalianvisitorto
London
into
passing
overseven
pounds
forafarethatshouldhaveinvolveda chargeofjustover
SOp.
Despite
thewayin
which
themoneyhadbeen voluntarily handedover - as a result,
of
course,
of a false belief - it was held that the crime of theft had been
committed. Someten yearslater,in Rv.
Morris
[1984]
AC. 320,wherea
shopperin a supermarket passed
through
thecheckoutwith falsepriceson
the
packages,
it was indicated that for there to be theft there must be an
appropriation whichimplies adverse, thatistosay notacquiesced in,
taking.
He hadbeen, so to
speak,
waved
through
at the
lower,
false
prices.
It hasgenerally beenaccepted that
Lawrence
and
Morris,
bothdecisions
of the
House
of
Lords,
are irreconcilable. The matter is made more
infuriating by the
obvious
point that
where
the handing-over has been
obtainedby deception, a
charge
of obtaining by falsepretences laid under
s.lS of the Theft Act
1968
will plainlybe successful. What the Court of
Appeal
had todecide in thiscase was
whether
it hadto apply
Lawrence
or
Morris.
Put simply,the Courtof Appeal tookthe view thatif the owner canbe
said to have handed the goods over, because he was deceived, then the
offencewas fraudor theft. So anyobtaining ofgoods on a chequeknown
tobe 'bad' and boundtobe dishonouredonpresentation, wouldclearlynot
be theft.
178 ThePoliceJournal
April
1992

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