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Troughton v MPC [1987] Crim LR 138

Making off without payment under section 3(1) Theft Act 1968, taxi driver’s payment not legally enforceable

Facts

The defendant got into a taxi whilst heavily intoxicated and asked to be driven to Highbury but did not specify his address. The driver stopped to obtain clearer directions from the defendant. An argument ensued during which the defendant accused the driver of taking an unnecessary detour to increase his fare. The driver asked for a specific address and when the defendant refused to answer he drove him to a police station from where he ran off. He was convicted of making off without payment and appealed on the basis that no payment was due.

Issues

To be convicted of the offence of making off without payment contrary to section 3(1) Theft Act 1968, there must be a payment which is lawfully due for services or goods which have been provided to the defendant. The contract between the taxi driver and the defendant was for the driver to take him to Highbury. As the driver had failed to take the defendant to Highbury, he had been in breach of his contractual obligations towards him and, consequently, no payment was legally due and he was under no legal obligation to pay the taxi driver the fare. For the offence of making off, there must be a legally enforceable payment which can be demanded and avoided.

Held

The defendant’s conviction for making off without payment was quashed. As the taxi driver had not taken him home, no legally enforceable obligation to pay the fare had arisen and so there was no payment to avoid.


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