Attorney General v Grey

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Judgment Date02 May 1944

Court of Criminal of Appeal.

The People (Attorney-General) v. Grey.
THE PEOPLE (at the suit of the Attorney-General)
and
WILLIAM J. GREY (1)

Criminal law - Fraudulent conversion - Meaning of - Officer of public company - Taking company's property under claim of right - Whether claim must be well founded in law or in fact to constitute a valid defence to a charge of fraudulent conversion - Larceny Act, 1916 (6 and 7 Geo. 5, c. 50), s. 20,sub-s. 1.

Criminal Appeal.

Application for leave to appeal from two convictions and sentences recorded in the Circuit (Criminal) Court at Dublin on the 8th and 9th days of March, 1944.

The appellant, William J. Grey and one, Harold Clifford Hoskins, were jointly indicted in the Circuit (Criminal) Court upon an indictment containing, so far as related to the appellant, two counts as follows:—

Count No. 1:—Conspiracy, fraudently to convert property. Particulars of offence: William J. Grey and Harold Clifford Hoskins, on a date unknown between the month

of June, 1942, and the month of March, 1943, being officers of a certain public Company, namely, The Alliance and Dublin Consumers Gas Company, conspired together fraudulently to take certain property, to wit, electrical batteries the property of the said Alliance and Dublin Consumers Gas Company, and to apply the same for their own use and benefit.

Count No. 2:—Fraudulent conversion of property contrary to s. 20, sub-s. 1 (ii) of the Larceny Act, 1916. Particulars of offence: William J. Grey on a date unknown between the 13th day of June, 1942, and the 4th day of March, 1943, in the City of Dublin, then being an officer of a certain public Company, namely, The Alliance and Dublin Consumers Gas Company, fraudulently did take and apply for his own use and benefit certain property, to wit, nineteen 6 volt batteries and eighteen connectors therefor, total value £117 3s. 0d. being the property of the said Alliance and Dublin Consumers Gas Company.

The appellant was convicted upon both counts, and applied for, but was refused, a certificate from the trial Judge, that the case was a fit case for an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The principal grounds of the present application were that the verdict of the jury was against the evidence and the weight of the evidence, and that the trial Judge had misdirected the jury in law and in fact.

The facts as proved in evidence at the trial are sufficiently stated for the purpose of this report in the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal delivered by O'Byrne J. post.

The appellant and another were jointly indicted upon an indictment containing, so far as related to the appellant, two counts. In the first count they were both charged with that, being officers of a certain public company they did conspire together fraudulently to take certain property, to wit, electric batteries, the property of the company, and to apply the same for their own use and benefit; and in the second count the appellant was charged with that, being such officer as aforesaid, he did take and apply for his own use and benefit certain property, to wit, nineteen batteries and eighteen connectors, the property of the said company, contrary to s. 20, sub-s. 1 (ii) of the Larceny Act, 1916.

Under the terms of his appointment with the company, the appellant was entitled to be supplied free of cost by the company with gas for domestic purposes, including the lighting of his private residence. Owing to a very severe shortage of gas resulting from prevailing conditions, the company, had found itself unable to provide the appellant with the necessary supply of gas, and it appeared from the evidence, although the appellant did not expressly base his defence upon it, that he considered himself entitled, in view of the inability of the company to carry out their agreement with him for the supply of gas for domestic purposes, to take and use the electrical equipment in question as an alternative means of lighting his residence. The trial Judge did not direct the jury with reference to this particular matter. The appellant was convicted upon both counts and sentenced. On an application for liberty to appeal against his conviction and sentence,

Held by the Court of Criminal Appeal that a claim by the appellant that, in the circumstances which had arisen, he honestly believed that he was entitled to take the equipment for the purpose of supplying light to his residence, though not expressly made in the course of his defence, arose sufficiently upon the evidence and should, in the interests of justice, have been left to the jury with a direction that if the appellant, when he took the equipment and applied it to his own use, honestly believed that he was entitled so to do, he ought to be acquitted, even though his claim to be so entitled was not well founded in law or in fact, and that in the absence of such a direction the conviction must be quashed.

R. v. BernhardELR [1938] 2 K. B. 264, applied.

Cur. adv. vult.

The judgment of the Court was delivered by O'Byrne J.:—

O'Byrne J. :—

The applicant, William J. Grey, and one, Harold Clifford Hoskins, were jointly indicted in the Dublin Circuit...

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