If found liable, Justin and Robbie could both be charged with the property offence of theft under s.1 of the Theft Act 1968 (TA 1968). The Act states ‘A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it…’ In order for the offence of theft to be applied, Justin and Robbie must satisfy all five elements of the actus reus and mens rea at the same time for the prosecution to prove liability.
The actus reus of the offence of theft is outlined in s.1(1) of the TA 1968 as; appropriation of property belonging to another . Appropriation is defined in s.3 (1) of the TA 1968 as ‘Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an appropriation.’ R v Morris held, for appropriation to take place, it is not essential that all the rights of the owner are assumed, just one right is adequate. By transferring £20,000 from his employers account to Robbie’s account, Justin and Robbie have appropriated property that belongs to Justin’s previous employer. Considering the facts of the case, since Justin is no longer employed by his previous employer we can strongly assume that he does not have the consent to be accessing his employer’s accounts. If for any reason, Justin were to argue that he had consent to access the accounts, consent is irrelevant, and appropriation can still occur even when the owner of the property has consented to the appropriation as seen in DPP v Gomez. The TA 1968 s.4(1) defines property as ‘money and all other property, real and personal, including things in action and other intangible property’. The £20,000 that was transferred by Justin is considered to be a thing in action because money that is in a bank account or in an overdraft facility is considered to be property that can be stolen, as confirmed in R v Kohn. When Robbie withdrew the £20,000 from his personal bank account and was to be paid £5,000 by Justin, he too appropriated property which in this case would be the physical aspect of money which is regarded as notes and coins, as in the case of R v Velumyl. The TA 1968 s.5(1) states that property shall be regarded as belonging to any person having possession or control of it or having in it any proprietary right. It is evident that the money being taken does not belong to Justin or Robbie and is, in fact, the possession of the previous employer, demonstrated in Turner. We can conclude by Justin and Robbie’s actions that all three elements of the actus reus of theft are satisfied by the both of them.
The mens rea of theft is outlined as dishonest and intention to permanently deprive the other of property. The TA 1968 does not have a legal definition of dishonesty. It was however held in R v Feely, that the question of dishonesty must be left for the jury to decide and that the jury must find what the defendant was thinking, and whether it was dishonest. The TA 1968 s.2(1) sets out circumstances whereas an appropriation of property is not viewed as dishonest. In situations like that of Justin and Robbie where a defendant cannot benefit from s.2(1) of the TA 1968, a two-stage test set out in the case of R v Gosh was to be applied by the jury. The test for determining dishonesty was based on both a subjective and objective limb; firstly, was what was done dishonest according to the standards of reasonable and honest people? If so, did the defendant realise that what he was doing was dishonest by those standards? As of recently, the Supreme Court in the case of Ivey Genting Casinos ruled that the R v Gosh for dishonesty is no longer to be the main authority within criminal proceedings. Lord Hughes in paragraph 56 of his judgement in R v Ivey listed six serious problems he believed existed within the second leg of the rule in R v Gosh. Essentially stating that the subjective limb of the test was counter-intuitive, offering an opportunity for defendants to argue that regardless of the objective limb’s existence in the test, they personally felt as though their actions would not be constituted as dishonest. This would create further issues in the sense that the accused would rely heavily on the “Robin Hood” defence of thinking it would be adequate to steal from the rich and then be acquitted by arguing that they genuinely believed that their actions were and should be seen as honest. Making it difficult for the jury to decide on what scale an individual’s idea dishonesty should be measured. Lord Hughes said in Ivey Genting Casinos; ‘any defendant whose subjective standards were sufficiently warped would be entitled to be acquitted’. Lord Hughes states in his judgement that the objective limb recognised in the case of Royal Brunei Airlines Sdn Bhd v Tan and Barlow Clowes International Ltd v Eurotrust International Ltd should only be applied, in the efforts to revolutionize what the definition of dishonesty would be across both criminal and civil proceedings in hopes of banishing the objective and subjective in the definition of dishonesty. If we were to apply the facts of the case to the objective limb in the R v Ivey test towards both Justin and Robbie, in order to decide whether a reasonable and honest person would consider their actions as dishonest. It would be very clear that no reasonable person would believe that the transfer and withdrawal of the £20,000 done by Justin and Robbie to pay off Justin’s gambling debt would be considered remotely honest. The fact that Robbie accepted the £5,000 to help Justin is very evidently dishonest in every regard. Justin and Robbie both had every intention to permanently deprive Justin’s previous employer of his property and under the TA 1968 s.6(1) Justin and Robbie intended to ‘treat the thing as his own to dispose regardless of the other’s rights’ by splitting the money between themselves and for Justin to pay off his debt. Finally, Justin and Robbie have satisfied all five elements at the same time to be liable for theft. Therefore, Robbie is a joint principal to the carrying out of the theft.
The most serious offence that Robbie could be charged with is for the murder of Tommy. The seventeenth-century book written by Lord Coke gave the definition of murder that is commonly recited in court. The modern definition of murder in law is the unlawful killing of another person under the Queen’s peace, and to do so intending to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH). Robbie must satisfy the actus reus and mens rea of murder with no available defence to be liable for murder.
The actus reus defines the ‘act’ which would constitute the unlawfully killing of another person under the Queen’s peace. Robbie stabbed Tommy after the alteration in the bank where Tommy punched Robbie in the face. For Robbie to complete the actus reus of murder, the stabbing needs to be the reason for Tommy’s death. Nevertheless, Robbie stabbing Tommy does not need to be the sole or even the main cause of Tommy’s death. Robbie’s stabbing needs only to make a substantial contribution to the killing as decided in R v Cheshire. In order for Robbie to satisfy the elements of the actus reus, he must also satisfy causation. R v White, sets out the ‘but for test’ which asks; ‘but for the actions of the defendant, would the result have occurred?’ Robbie stabbing Tommy twice is the only reason for Tommy’s death. R v Cato also held that the defendants conduct must be more than a ‘minimal’ cause of the consequences, but it is not required for it to be the substantial cause. Therefore, there is no intervening act, and the chain of causation is not broke. Tommy’s injuries from the stabbing were the reason for his death and he would not have died had Robbie not stabbed him.
The mens rea of murder is defined as intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH). Robbie did not walk into the bank with the intention to kill or harm anyone. The alteration that occurred at the bank between Robbie and Tommy was instigated by Tommy punching Robbie in the face. Once Tommy punched Robbie then oblique intent or also known as the direct intent was established. Oblique intent covers circumstances where the consequences of the actions of the accused would be virtually certain, and where the defendant decides to go ahead with it anyway, as adopted in the case of R v Moloney. Lord Bridge provided a two-part test for oblique intent; ‘firstly was death or really serious injury a natural consequence of the defendant’s voluntary act? Secondly, did the defendant foresee the consequences as being a natural consequence of his act?’ Applying the facts of the case, death was the consequences of Robbie’s actions and he was also aware that by stabbing Tommy, very serious harm would have been the minimum of Tommy’s injuries. Whether Robbie had the intention to kill Tommy or not is irrelevant, as Robbie had the intention to cause GBH by stabbing Tommy twice. The intention to cause GBH is sufficient enough for Robbie be found liable for murder, as held in R v Rahman.
Even though Robbie did not instigate the altercation at the bank and Tommy punched Robbie first, Robbie cannot argue self-defence, because he used ‘excessive’ force. Palmer v R, established that, “the force used to defend oneself or another must be reasonable in its circumstances.” Therefore, the lesser charge of manslaughter would not be available to Robbie, and he would therefore be charged with murder.
The next offence that Robbie could be found liable for is the offence of malicious wounding/ inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) under s.20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA 1861). The actus reus of the offence is the unlawful wounding or inflicting of GBH on another person . Which can be interpreted as a direct or indirect act or omission as decided in R v Martin, which does not require the proof of an assault which was held in R v Burstow. Robbie intends to directly inflict a cut in Mandy’s forearm as he pushes her away. Mandy has sustained a wound as, every layer of her skin is broken. In terms of factual and legal causation, ‘but for’ Robbie’s actions Mandy would not have sustained a wound on her forearm , and the actions of Robbie have had a more than a minimal effect to the injuries sustained by Mandy, consequently, the chain of causation is not broken .
The mens rea of this offence under s 20 of the OAPA 1861 is the intention to apply unlawful physical force or recklessness. Robbie satisfies the mens rea and the actus reus of the offence because he has inflicted unlawful physical force onto Many which has resulted in a wound. Therefore, Robbie could also be held liable for the offence of malicious wounding/inflicting GBH under s.20 of the OAPA 1861.