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Ricketts v Basildon Magistrates [2011] 1 Cr App Rep 15

The appellant took six bags containing used clothing and other miscellaneous items from outside charity shops owned by Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation (BHF). He intended to sell the items at a car boot sale. The bags from Oxfam were taken from a bin outside the shop in which people could leave donated items. The bags from BHF were simply placed outside the door to the shop. The Magistrates committed the case to the Crown court on the basis that he had stolen property belonging to Oxfam and the BHF. He brought an application for judicial review to quash their decision contending the items had been abandoned and therefore did not belong to anyone.

Held:

The bags taken from the bins outside Oxfam could be taken to be in Oxfam’s possession at the time he appropriated them. However, with regard to the bags taken from outside BHF, no possession or proprietary interest could be taken to arise from them simply being left in the vicinity. However, it didn’t follow that the items had been abandoned. The donor intended the items to be a gift to the BHF, they had attempted delivery of the gift, and the gift would be complete once BHF took possession of the items. The items still belonged to the donor until BHF took possession.
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