A obtained his father's railway pass, and substituting his photograph, used it to travel on the train, having arranged to meet B. his girlfriend, at the station. She was allowed entry to the the train platform, when she, untruthfully, claimed she had lost her train pass. Before boarding the train, B, by using a metal disc, obtained a bar of chocolate from a coin-operated machine. Entering the carriage, the two, spotting an unattended brief case, took it intending merely to look through it. Seeing nothing of interest to them, they threw it out of the window.
They then ordered two cups of coffee in the restaurant carriage, which they avoided paying for, by alighting at the next station but were stopped by a railway police officer. With what crimes might A and B be charged? (Adapted from GCE Edexcel, June 1996, Section C, Crime and Society, Question 9) The first issue that arises here is A's act of taking his father's railway pas.. This could amount to theft. The law on theft is laid under Section 1 of Theft Act 1968. Under this statute it is stated that a person commits theft when he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of depriving the other of it.
Hence, the actus reus of this offence is the appropriation f property belonging to another. In this case, the railway pass belonging to A's father clearly falls within the definitions of 'property' under Section 4 and 'belonging to another' under Section 5 of Theft Act 1968. The prosecution would not have a hard time trying to prove that A assumed the rights of an owner by taking it and changing the photograph on the pass. In R v Morris, the defendant assumes the rights of an owner by switching the price tags of two items on a supermarket shelf.
This amounted to appropriation as he assumed the rights of an owner to those items and he was found guilty. The situation in this present case is similar to that of Morris. The mens rea of this offence includes dishonesty, laid under Section 2 of Theft Act 1968. To determine dishonesty, the Ghosh test applies. It should be established that A's act was dishonest according to the standards of ordinary reasonable people. The answer here would be yes. The court would then ask if A knew that his act was dishonest according to the standards of ordinary reasonable person.
I the answer is positive as well, he would have been dishonest in his act. The mens rea of this offence also includes the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property of it. It would be fairly easy for the prosecution to prove such intention as A substituted his father's photograph to one of his own. Hence, it seems that A would most probably be charged, and convicted, of theft. The second issue that arises here is his act of using the railway pass to have a ride on the train. This could amount to the offence of obtaining services by deception. The law on this offence is laid under Section 1 of Theft Act 1978.
The actus reus was clearly committed as A used the train pass in order to board the train. The deception would have occurred when A showed the pass to whoever was in charge of letting people into the station or the train. The deception must have been operative on the mind of that person. The mens rea of this offence is intention or recklessness, and dishonesty in obtaining the deception. On the facts, it is safe to say that A had the intention to deceive, which was evident when he switched his father's photograph to that of his own. Where dishonesty is concerned, the Ghosh test applies again.
The first limb of the Ghosh test would be answered in the positive, and if the court finds that A was aware that his act was dishonest according to the standards of ordinary reasonable people (the second limb), then he would have been dishonest. Here, the court would charge him with this offence and would most probably be successful in convicting him. Another issue that arises here is B claiming that she had lost her train pass. She could be charged with the same offence in the previous paragraph, obtaining services by deception under Section 1 of Theft Act 1978.
On the facts, the actus reus was satisfied when she deceived whoever was in charge of letting people into the train station by saying that she lost her pass, which was untrue. The link between deception and the obtaining of services can be established. The prosecution would not have a difficult time proving that she had the intention of deceiving the person in charge. The first limb of the Ghosh test would be satisfied. If the court is able to satisfy the second limb, she would have been dishonest. Here, it is very likely that she was dishonest.
Hence, she would be charged with this offence and it is extremely likely that she will be guilty of it. Yet another issue is B's act of obtaining a bar of chocolate from a coin-operated machine by putting in a metal disc. At first glance, she could be charged with obtaining property by deception under Section 15 of Theft Act 1968. However, all the deception offences under Sections 15 and 16 of Theft Act 1968 and Sections 1 and 2 of Theft Act 1978 requires that the deception be done onto a human mind. One cannot deceive a machine. Hence, the prosecution would not be able to charge or convict B of this offence.
However, she could be charged with theft under Section 1 of Theft Act 1968 as described above. She clearly appropriated property belonging to another. She assumed the rights of an owner of an object that belonged to whoever owned that machine. This would satisfy the actus reus laid under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the act. It would not be difficult for the prosecution to prove that there B had the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the machine of the chocolate bar, and satisfying the first limb of the Ghosh test, the court would most probably find that the second limb of the test is also satisfied.
Hence, B would most probably be charged and convicted of theft. One issue that is raised is A and B's action of taking the brief case and throwing it out of the window. They would most probably be charged for theft under Section 1 Theft Act 1968 as described above. Appropriation was done as they assumed the rights of an owner by taking it, looking through it and finally throwing it out. Hence, Section 3 of the Act is satisfied. Sections 4 and 5 of the Act are satisfied as the brief case would amount to property belonging to a person, who most probably accidentally left it there so it was left unattended.
The intention to permanently deprive another of it, as laid in Section 6 would be satisfied as they threw the brief case out of the window. Even if they did not have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of it, Section 6(1) has stated that the court would treat them as if they had the intention to do so as they had dispose of the item. Applying the Ghosh test and satisfying the first limb, the prosecution would have to probably not have a difficult time trying to prove that they were aware what they did was wrong. Hence, they would most probably be charged and convicted of this offence.
Another issue here is their act of avoiding the payment of the cups of coffee they ordered. The prosecution would most probably charge them with the offence of making off without payment, laid under Section 3 of Theft Act 1978. In Edwards v Ddin, the defendant made off without paying for the petrol that was filled into his car. He was found not guilty as according to contract law, the petrol was already his and therefore his act could not amount to theft. However, the statute above made this an offence since 1978. The actus reus was clearly committed when they left the train without paying for the coffee.
The mens rea of this offence includes dishonesty. Applying the Ghosh test and passing the first limb, the prosecution would most probably succeed in proving that they were aware that what they did was wrong. The prosecution also has to prove that they were aware that payment was required. The prosecution would probably succeed in proving this. It also has to be proven that they intended to avoid payment, and this would not be difficult, as it was evident when they were leaving the train before being stopped by the police officer.