R v Walkington [1979]

R v Walkington [1979] 1 WLR 1169 addressed the legal principles surrounding trespass and burglary under Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968. The court clarified that entry in excess of implied permission constitutes trespass, and a defendant can be found guilty of burglary even if the intended item to steal is not present.

Walkington, the defendant, entered an unmanned counter in a department store after it closed. He opened the till, which he found to be empty. Subsequently, Walkington attempted to leave but was apprehended before he could do so. Walkington was charged and convicted of burglary under Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968. The key issue in the case was whether Walkington was a trespasser under Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, affirming Walkington's conviction. Geoffrey Lane LJ, delivering the judgment, provided key considerations in the case. Geoffrey Lane LJ highlighted that management had impliedly prohibited customers from entering the counter area, and Walkington was aware of that prohibition. Therefore, Walkington's entry into the unmanned counter area in excess of the implied permission constituted trespass under Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968.

The court clarified that, in the context of burglary, it is not necessary for the intended item to steal to be present at the time of entry. As long as the jury is satisfied that the defendant was a trespasser and intended to steal at the point of entry, the absence of the intended item to steal is immaterial. In this case, even though Walkington found the till empty, his initial entry with the intent to steal constituted burglary.

This case underscores the principle that entry in excess of implied permission amounts to trespass under Section 9 of the Theft Act 1968. It also clarifies that the offence of burglary is committed if the defendant is a trespasser and has the intent to steal at the time of entry, regardless of whether the intended item to steal is actually present.
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