The People (Attorney-General) v Grey

CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Judgment Date01 Jan 1944
The People (Attorney-General)

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.

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: Heldby 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...

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