Bentham, Regina v: HL 10 Mar 2005

In the course of a theft, the defendant had held his fingers in his pocket so as to suggest that he had a gun. He appealed conviction for possessing an imitation firearm.
Held: ‘Rules of statutory construction have a valuable role when the meaning of a statutory provision is doubtful, but none where, as here, the meaning is plain. Purposive construction cannot be relied on to create an offence which Parliament has not created. ‘ and ‘One cannot possess something which is not separate and distinct from oneself. An unsevered hand or finger is part of oneself. Therefore, one cannot possess it. Resort to metaphor is impermissible because metaphor is a literary device which draftsmen of criminal statutes do not employ. What is possessed must under the definition be a thing. A person’s hand or fingers are not a thing.’

Steyn Phillips, Bingham, Roger, Carswell LL
[2005] UKHL 18, Times 11-Mar-2005, [2005] 1 WLR 1057
Bailii, House of Lords
Firearms Act 1968 17(2)
England and Wales
Appeal fromRegina v Bentham CACD 5-Dec-2003
In the course of a robbery the defendant had held his finger in his pocket to suggest that he was pointing a gun at the victim. He now appealed against a conviction for possession of an imitation firearm.
Held: The defendant could not . .
DistinguishedRegina v Morris CACD 1984
The defendant had with him, with intent to commit robbery, a separate object, namely two metal pipes bound together, which had the appearance of a double-barrelled shotgun.
Held: He was properly convicted of possession of an imitation firearm. . .

Cited by:
CitedYearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust CA 4-Feb-2009
The defendant hospital had custody of sperm samples given by the claimants in the course of fertility treatment. The samples were effectively destroyed when the fridge malfunctioned. Each claimant was undergoing chemotherapy which would prevent them . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 27 December 2021; Ref: scu.223369