Recent Judicial Decisions

AuthorJohn Wood
Published date01 April 1980
Date01 April 1980
Subject MatterArticle
The University
Legal Correspondent
R. v. Walkington [1979] I W.L.R. 1169 Court of Appeal
The accused went to a Debenham's store in Oxford Street shortly
before closing time. His movements attracted suspicion and he was
watched. He went into an area between moveable counters which
was obviously a staff area, pulled the till drawer further open and
looked inside.
was empty and he shut the drawer and started to
leave the store. He was stopped, arrested and taken to the nearby
police station. He made no secret of his intention, saying in a written
statement "
After a while I noticed a till partly open with a drawer
beneath it. I thought I might be able to steal something from it so I
opened the drawer but there was nothing in it worth stealing which
was my intention
" At his trial the accused did not contradict what
he had said in his statement. His defence was that he was not, as
required by law, a trespasser.
He was found guilty of burglary and sentenced to six months'
imprisonment. His appeal rested upon two points, that of trespass
raised at the trial and a further one of conditional intent.
The trespass point was a simple one; the area between the counters
was not "a part of the building". It was firmly rejected. The Court of
Appeal took the view that Walkington had in effect"gone behind the
counter", a place not open to customers and so he was plainly
trespassing. The point of difficulty for the Court of Appeal was one
which had not been raised at the trial but had been added later to the
notice of appeal. It was based upon a recently reported decision R. v.
Husseyn (1977) 67 Cr. App. R.
which was said to support the
propositions that Walkington was not guilty because there was no
evidence that there was property capable of being stolen and that
such intention as he had was conditional upon his finding something
of value to steal.
The case relied on, Husseyn, is the typical one ofa person tampering
with a parked vehicle, a van which contained some valuable sub-
aqua equipment. Lord Scarman in the judgement allowing the
appeal relied upon the rules set out in R. v. Easom [1971] 2 Q.B. 315
in a charge of thefta"conditional appropriation"willnot do, and
said that an intention to steal "if something worth stealing is present"
is not an intention to steal.
Police Journa/ April /980

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