R v Smith, Plummer, and Haines [2011]

R v Smith, Plummer, and Haines [2011] EWCA Crim 66 considered whether illegal property, specifically heroin, could be considered property under the Theft Act 1968.

The defendants were charged with theft under Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 for robbing the victim of heroin. The appeal was based on the argument that drugs did not qualify as property under Section 4 of the Theft Act 1968 because their possession was illegal. The main issue was whether illegal property, such as heroin, could be classified as property within the meaning of Section 4 of the Theft Act 1968.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, affirming that property in unlawful possession constitutes property that can be stolen under the Theft Act 1968. Section 4 of the Act defines property broadly as all tangible property, with some express exceptions.

The court's decision clarified that the illegality of possession does not exclude an item from being considered property for the purposes of theft. In this case, even though the possession of heroin was unlawful, the heroin itself was still regarded as property under the statutory definition.

This ruling reflects the comprehensive scope of the term "property" under the Theft Act 1968 and reinforces the principle that illegal possession does not preclude an item from being classified as property susceptible to theft.
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