R v Pitchley (Abraham Joseph) – Case Summary

R v Pitchley (Abraham Joseph)

Court of Appeal

Citations: (1973) 57 Cr App R 30.


The appellant’s son handed the appellant £150 of stolen money. The appellant entered the money into the his Post Office savings bank book (a book which records money in a savings account). It stayed there for several days. The appellant claimed that he was not aware that the money was stolen when his son handed it to him, but learned that his son burgled a house the next day. Nevertheless, he allowed the money to remain in his account.

The appellant was convicted of handling stolen goods under s.22 of the Theft Act 1968. This provision states that:

‘(1) A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of the stealing) knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.’

The appellant appealed his conviction. He argued that he did not handle any stolen property knowing it was stolen. He had already entered it into the savings book by the time he learned the truth, and did not interact with the money afterwards.

The indictment did not state whether the prosecution alleged retention, removal, disposal or realisation of the goods. However, at trial, the prosecution alleged that keeping the money in the savings book counted as assisting another (the bank) to retain the money for his son’s benefit.

  1. Did the appellant handle stolen goods by leaving the money in his savings book?

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. There was sufficient evidence that the appellant had assisted in retaining the money for his son’s benefit by allowing it to remain in his Post Office savings book.

This Case is Authority For…

A person ‘retains’ goods for the purposes of s.22 if they permit the goods to remain under their control or possession. Merely failing to reveal the presence of the goods when asked by police does not amount to retention or assisting in retention, however.


When charging someone with handling stolen goods, it is desirable for the prosecution to state in the indictment which type of ‘handling’ under s.22 of the Theft Act 1968 they are relying on. However, the failure to do this does not make the indictment defective.