R v Dawson and James [1976] 64 Cr App R 170

Robbery contrary to section 8(1) Theft Act 1968, use of force on any person, ordinary word, for the jury to determine whether force has been used.


One defendant pushed the victim who lost his balance enabling the second defendant to steal his wallet. The two defendants were convicted of robbery and appealed against their convictions on the basis that the nudging or pushing of the victim did not amount to the use of force on another person and, therefore, was insufficient to amount to the actus reus for robbery.


To successfully convict a defendant of the offence of robbery under section 8(1) Theft Act 1968, the prosecution must prove that a completed theft under section 1(1) Theft Act 1968 has occurred and that the defendant has used force against any person immediately before or at the time the theft took place. The argument that jostling, nudging or pushing a victim could not amount to force for the purposes of the offence of robbery was rejected by the Court of Appeal. Force was to be considered an ordinary word and it requires no extra direction to be made at trial to the jury. It is a question of fact for the jury to decide whether force has been used and it was open to them to consider that the nudging amounted to the use of force.


The convictions of both defendants were upheld. The issue as to whether force has been applied is a question of fact for the jury to decide.