R v Geddes (Gary William) – Case Summary

R v Geddes (Gary William)

Court of Appeal

Citations: 160 JP 697; The Times 16 July 1996.


The defendant was spotted entering a school’s lavatory. He was frightened off by a police officer, who later found the defendant’s rucksack in some bushes nearby. The rucksack contained a knife, rope and masking tape. The police believed that he intended to try to catch and restrain a child in the lavatory. There was no admissible evidence as to his motive. The defendant was convicted of attempted false imprisonment.

The defendant appealed. He argued that there was no evidence which would allow the jury to conclude that he had done any act which was more than merely preparatory to the commission of the crime.

  1. Had the defendant done a more than merely preparatory act in trying to imprison a child?

The Court of Appeal overturned the conviction. There was no evidence that the defendant had done anything more than merely preparatory. He never came into contact with a child or interacted with one. He had merely equipped himself and put himself in a position to commit the offence, which was not enough for a criminal attempt.

This Case is Authority For…

The line between preparatory acts and a criminal attempt is not easy to draw, and depends on the particular facts of the case. Broadly, the jury should ask whether the defendant ‘tried to commit the offence’ or merely got ready and positioned himself to commit the offence.