Metropolitan Police Commissioner v Charles (1977)

Deception – Fraud – Obtaining Pecuniary Advantage by Deception


The defendant’s bank account was overdrawn and he had been warned by his bank manager not to write more than one cheque a day for more than £30.  Despite this, he went to gamble in a casino.  He bought chips from the casino using a chequebook backed by a guarantee card issued to him by his bank.  The defendant was aware that the amounts that he was drawing for would result in him exceeding his overdraft limit of £100.  He was charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception contrary to s16 Theft Act 1968 and convicted.


Whether the person deceived under s16 Theft Act 1968 had to suffer any pecuniary loss caused by the deception.  Whether the pecuniary advantage gained had to be from the deceived party.


The defendant’s conviction was upheld.  The defendant had induced, by deception, the casino’s staff through the presentation of the cheque guarantee card into accepting cheques that he knew would not be honoured.  Whilst the casino did not suffer any loss as a result of the deception, as the bank had implicitly guaranteed the defendant’s cheques in any event through allowing him use of the card, s16 Theft Act 1968 did not require them to; it only required that the accused, by deception, obtained for himself or another a pecuniary advantage.  This the defendant did.  There was therefore a causal link between the deception in the form of using the cheque guarantee card to induce the casino staff to accept his cheques, and the pecuniary advantage he gained by obtaining chips for cheques which he did not have the credit to obtain, regardless of the fact that the casino did not suffer a loss.