R v Stones [1989] 1WLR 156

Aggravated burglary – possession of a weapon of offence – Theft Act 1968.


The defendant, Stones, was caught running away from a house that had been burgled. When he was arrested and searched he was found to be carrying a kitchen knife, which he claimed was for self-defence ‘because some lads from Blyth are after me’. He was charged with aggravated burglary under the Theft Act 1968.


A person commits aggravated burglary contrary to s.10 Theft Act 1968 if he commits a burglary and at the time has with him a weapon of offence. A weapon of offence includes any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by for such use. The defendant argued that it had to be proved that the defendant intended to use it to cause injury or incapacitate a person in the course of the burglary. The defendant also argued that the judge had misdirected the jury by saying that it had to be shown that the accused was carrying a weapon of offence during the burglary with the intention of using it to cause injury on a person.


The appeal was dismissed. It was sufficient to show that the defendant knowingly had the knife with him, with the intent to cause injury to some person. There was no need to show that he intended to use it in the course of the burglary. Saying that he intended to use it for self-defence showed that he intended to use it to cause injury. The trial judge had erred, but it was a mistake that was advantageous to the defendant, so he could not complain about it.