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Hibbert v McKiernan [1948] 2 KB 142

The defendant collected lost balls on a golf course owned by a golf club. He then sold the balls to golfers coming on to the ground. He did not have permission to be on the golf course or to collect the balls. The golf club had warned him on previous occasions not to do this and had made efforts to prevent his activities with the erection of high fences and informing the police of his activities. The police patrolled the area and caught him in the act. He was convicted of theft and appealed contending that the balls were abandoned and as a finder of the balls he had a better right to the balls than the golf club as landowner, since the balls were on the surface of the ground rather than underneath.


His conviction for theft was upheld. The golf club had exercised sufficient control demonstrating both an intention to control for possession and an intention to exclude others. As a trespasser, the defendant could not demonstrate a better right to the balls.

Back to lecture outline on theft in criminal law

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