Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED February 24, 2003

Magistrates were entitled to refuse a submission of no case to answer and to draw inferences from the facts in order to convict the defendant of theft if that was the common-sense conclusion having had regard to all the circumstances.Appeal by way of case stated against the defendant's ('B's') conviction by North East Hampshire Magistrates' Court on 2 May 2002 for theft under ss.1 and 7 Theft Act 1968. B was a retail salesperson. He was required to key a personal identity number into his till at the beginning and the end of each shift. On 28 October 2001, his till was checked before the end of his shift and the takings were up by ?75. The excess sum related to refunds for maps and books which had been entered into the till as refunds without the corresponding sums having been taken out of the till. Previously, B had entered refunds correctly into the till and the till had always balanced. The magistrates refused a submission of no case to answer and drew the inference that B had appropriated the excess sum in question after keying false refunds into the till and convicted B. On appeal B argued that it had not been open to the magistrates to draw such an inference in circumstances where there had been no stock taken or other evidence to show that the goods in respect of which refunds had purportedly been given had not been returned.HELD: (1) The whole of the circumstances gave rise to a clear case where it appeared that the money was likely to have gone missing in the way alleged by the prosecution. Any other conclusion would have involved a staggering coincidence. (2) The magistrates had taken all the circumstances into account and were entitled to draw a common-sense conclusion.Appeal dismissed.