R v Ryan [1996] Crim LR 320; (1996) 120 JP 610


Burglary – must entry be effective under Theft Act 1968.


The defendant, Ryan, was discovered in the early hours of the morning stuck inside the window of an elderly person’s house and had to be removed by the fire brigade. He had managed only to get his head and one arm inside the window. He was convicted with burglary and subsequently appealed against his conviction to the Court of Appeal.


Under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968 a person commits burglary if they enter a building or part of a building as a trespasser with intent to steal anything from the building, inflict grievous bodily harm on any person therein, or damage the building or anything therein. The defendant argued that he had not been capable of stealing anything from the building because he was firmly stuck in the window. He also argued that he had not ‘entered’ a building as he was partially outside it.


The fact that nothing was stolen was only because he had gotten stuck. In any case it was irrelevant whether anything was actually stolen or not. The defendant’ partial presence within the building amounted to entry under s.9(1) of the 1968 Act. The court applied R v Brown [1985] Crim LR 212 and stated that a person could enter a building if only a part of his body with actually inside the premises. The court agreed with the trial judge’s finding that it was up to a jury to decide whether there was entry or not based on the facts of the case.