Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED February 6, 2003

The appellant remained in possession of a bladed article for the purposes of an offence under s.139(1) Criminal Justice Act 1988 even though he had forgotten that it was on his person, but forgetfulness could, in some circumstances, be relevant to a defence of good reason for possession under s.139(4) of the Act.Appeal by way of case stated against the appellant's ('B's') conviction by Bury St Edmonds Magistrates Court on 26 April 2002 for possession of a bladed instrument in a public place contrary to s.139(1) Criminal Justice Act 1988. It was accepted that B had been using a lock knife found in his possession for work and had put it in his belt after finishing work on the day before the knife was found on him following a search at a police station. The magistrates also accepted that B had forgotten that the knife was in his belt but decided that that provided no defence. On appeal B argued: (i) that whilst McCalla (1988) 87 CAR 372 had decided that merely because a defendant had forgotten that he still had an article about his person did not mean that he had divested himself of possession of it, his case was distinguishable on the basis that he had forgotten his possession of the knife in a private place and could not therefore have had knowledge that he subsequently possessed it in a public place; and (ii) on the facts, the magistrates had not been entitled to find that the fact that he had forgotten that he was in possession of the knife did not amount to a good reason for possession of it within s.139(4) of the Act.HELD: (1) McCalla (supra) was good law, binding on the court and B's case was not distinguishable on the basis that his forgetting possession of the knife had occurred in a private place. (2) There could be circumstances where forgetfulness could be relevant to a defence of good reason under s.139(4) such as: (a) where forgetfulness was as a result of the effects of an illness; or (b) as a result of medication taken in respect of an illness. (3) Forgetfulness was not relevant to such a defence on the facts of the present case and it had been open to the magistrates to so hold.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWHC 245 (Admin)