R v Campbell (Tony)
Court of Appeal
Citations: (1991) 93 Cr App R 350.
The police received a tip-off that a robbery was going to take place at a post office, and staked the place out. There, they spotted on several occasions the appellant, who was lurking in the area. When he was first spotted, the appellant was wearing a motorcycle helmet. When the police next spotted him, he was wearing sunglasses and carrying a heavy object. The appellant stopped 30 yards in front of the building, before taking off his sunglasses and looking around. He then walked away.
When the appellant was seen in the area again, half an hour later, the police arrested him. The police found sunglasses, a fake gun and a threatening note on his person. The appellant admitted in interview that he originally meant to rob the post office, but that he had changed his mind and that the police arrested him before he could leave the area. On this basis, at trial his lawyer made a submission of no case to answer. The judge rejected this, and the jury convicted the appellant of attempted robbery contrary to s.1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981. The appellant appealed his conviction.
- Should the trial judge have accepted the appellant’s submission of no case to answer?
The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction. The judge must determine whether it was safe to leave the jury to consider the prosecution’s evidence when considering a submission of no case to answer. In the circumstances, the appellant was never in a position to carry out the offence and so no jury could safely conclude that he committed an act which was more than merely preparatory to the commission of robbery. Accordingly, the judge should have accepted the submission of no case to answer.
This Case is Authority For…
The convict a person of an attempt, the jury must be satisfied that:
- The defendant did an act which was more than merely preparatory to the commission of the substantive offence;
- The defendant intended to commit the substantive offence; and
- The defendant intended to commit the act which is more than merely preparatory to the substantive offence.
The law on attempts is contained in s.1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981. There is no need to direct the jury on any law preceding that Act.