R v Brown [1985] Crim LR 212

Burglary - meaning of ‘entry’ under Theft Act 1968.


The defendant, Brown, broke a shop window and stuck the top half of his body through the hole while rummaging about inside the shop in order to steal the contents. His lower half remained outside the shop. He was arrested and convicted of burglary under s.9 of the Theft Act 1968. He subsequently appealed against his conviction to the Court of Appeal.

Under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968 a person commits the offence of burglary if they enter a building or part of a building as a trespasser with intent to commit certain offences listed in s.9(2). These include stealing, inflicting grievous bodily harm on any person therein, and doing unlawful damage to the building or anything therein. The defendant argued that he had not ‘entered’ the building. He relied upon a previous Court of Appeal ruling in R v Collins [1972] 2 All ER 105 (CA) where the Court of Appeal held that only an ‘effective and substantial entry’ would be enough to commit burglary (per Davies LJ at 106).


Entry had to be ‘effective’ but the word ‘substantial’ was not considered to be of additional help. Therefore all that was required was either an ‘effective’ or a ‘substantial’ entry. Here, the entry was ‘effective’. Therefore, the offence was complete. Entry could still be effective even if the defendant did not enter the premises with his whole body. The defendant had entered with intent to steal. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed.