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   Case summaries      R v Kelly 1999

R v Kelly & Anor [1999] 2 WLR 384

Kelly was an artist. He was given permission to draw anatomical specimens held by the Royal College of Surgeons. The specimens were of various body parts used for training purposes. During the course of his visits he met Lindsay who was a junior technician working for the RCS. Kelly asked Lindsey to remove various body parts over a number of months. These included three human heads, six arms, ten legs part of a brain and three torsos. Kelly made casts of the body parts which were exhibited in an art gallery.  Both Kelly and Lyndsey were convicted of theft and appealed contending the body parts did not constitute property lawfully in the possession of RCS.


Appeal dismissed. Convictions upheld.

Parts of a corpse are capable of being property within section 4 of the Theft Act, if they have acquired different attributes by virtue of the application of skill, such as dissection or preservation techniques, for exhibition or teaching purposes.

Back to lecture outline on theft in criminal law