Barton v Director of Public Prosecutions: Admn 2001

The defendant appealed by way of case stated against the Stipendiary Magistrates’ decision that an information alleging theft of andpound;1,338.23 over a period of years did not offend against the rule that an information should only allege a single offence. The evidence in support of the charge indicated that there had been 94 takings from the cash register covered by debit entries.
Held: After reviewing the authorities on ‘continuous offences’, and despite the fact that the individual appropriations were each capable of being separately identified, that it was permissible to charge the whole course of conduct as a continuous offence because the defendant had no specific explanation for individual takings and put forward the same defence for all takings. The Magistrate accordingly was in a position to disregard any amount that he was unsure that the defendant had taken.
Kennedy LJ said: ‘Here the prosecution’s case was, we understand, set out in a schedule with dates and amounts indicating what was involved. Undoubtedly, each line in the schedule could have been charged as a separate offence, but had they been so charged, on average the amount involved would have been about andpound;15. Even if there had been 10 informations, the amount would still be under andpound;200. It simply would not represent the overall criminality, which, as we have already indicated, amounted to a sum in excess of andpound;1300. Specimen counts or specimen informations are no longer a possibility, in the light of the relatively recent decisions of this Court and of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division. To have 94 separate informations would have rightly been regarded as oppressive.’


Kennedy LJ and Astill J


[2001] EWHC Admin 223


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedTovey and Another v Regina CACD 9-Mar-2005
Each defendant appealed sentences where he had committed a series of offences and the sentence had been for specimen acts.
Held: When choosing representative offences a prosecutor should be careful to try to give the court a proper picture of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.224230