Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 3, 2003

A defendant who merely stood outside a building whilst his co-defendants had committed a burglary could not without more be guilty of that offence.Appeal by way of case stated against the decision of Bridlington Youth Court on 21 November 2002 to convict the appellant ('S') of burglary. S had accompanied two others ('B' and 'P') to a building but had been unaware of the others' intent. S saw B and P enter the building and come out with various items but remained outside the building at all times. S told B and P that they had committed a burglary and then went with them to a house where the items were hidden. The magistrates convicted on the facts on the basis that S had been associated with the offence. On appeal S argued that: (i) he had not participated in the offence; (ii) mere knowledge that B and P had been committing the offence was insufficient to convict him; (iii) there had been a clear finding of fact that he had remained outside the building at all times and no finding that he had acted as a look-out; and (iv) in those circumstances there were insufficient findings of fact to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.HELD: (1) If the evidence had shown that S had been involved by virtue of the fact that he had acted as a look-out, had been assisting or encouraging the crime or had been on standby ready to assist if required, it might have been open to the magistrates to conclude that the burglary had been a joint enterprise. However, the mere fact that he was outside the building and knew that a burglary was being committed was, without more, insufficient. (2) In those circumstances, the conviction would be quashed.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWHC 2717 (Admin)