McCalla, Regina v: CACD 1988

A cosh had been found in the glove compartment of the appellant’s car. He said he had picked it up a month earlier, had put it away and had forgotten about it.
Held: The court reviewed the authorities on what constituted possession. Once someone had or possessed something, he continued to have or possess it until he did something to rid himself of having or possessing it. Merely to have forgotten is not sufficient to exclude him from continuing to have or possess the object. ‘As to the law as stated in those four cases, one comment must first be made. In those concerning drugs, the consideration is that of possession. In those concerning offensive weapons, it is having them in a public place. To have something with one necessarily requires, we think, closer contact, as it were, with mere possession. Every case of ‘having’ is one of ‘possessing’, but it does not necessarily follow that every case of ‘possessing’ is one of ‘having’ within the meaning of the relevant statutory provisions. However, for the purposes of the instant case, and having regard to the earlier decisions to which we have referred, in our view, the relevant considerations as to recollection and forgetfulness are the same.’ and ‘we are quite satisfied that to have forgotten that one has an offensive weapon in the car that one is driving is not in itself a reasonable excuse under the Act. But when such forgetfulness is coupled with particular circumstances relating to the original acquisition of the article the combination of the original acquisition and the subsequent forgetfulness of possessing it may, given sufficient facts, be a reasonable excuse for having the offensive weapon with one.’


May LJ


[1988] 87 CR App R 372


England and Wales


CitedCugullere, Regina v 1961
The defendant had been driving a motor-van when he was stopped by the police. In the back of the van there were found three pickaxe handles bound with adhesive tape. His defence was that he did not know that the implements were in the back of his . .
CitedBuswell, Regina v CACD 1972
The defendant was accused of possession of drugs. The drugs in question had been medically prescribed by the defendant’s doctor. After he had taken them home he genuinely thought that they had been accidentally destroyed by his mother when washing . .
Per IncuriamRegina v Russell 1985
Meaning of possession of an offending article . .
CitedRegina v Martindale CACD 1986
Possession does not depend upon the alleged possessor’s powers of memory. Nor does possession come and go as memory revives or fails. ‘In the judgment of this court [that the argument that lack of memory or knowledge negatives possession is . .

Cited by:

CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Gregson QBD 23-Sep-1992
A knife fell from the defendant’s jeans during the course of a police search. He claimed to have forgotten about it.
Held: It is important to concentrate on the time in respect of which the defendant is charged. Six days earlier he had the . .
CitedJolie v Regina CACD 23-May-2003
The appellant had been convicted of having a pointed article with him in a public place. He said that the car he was driving had needed an instrument to operate the lock. At first he had used a knife, but then used scissors, losing the knife in the . .
CitedRegina v Glidewell CACD 4-May-1999
Forgetfulness might be relevant as a defence on a charge of possessing an offensive weapon. A taxi driver discovered weapons left by a passenger, but forgot having placed them in a glove compartment.
Held: The Appeal was allowed.
AppliedBayliss, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 6-Feb-2003
The defendant was arrested in Tescos. On being searched he was found to have a lock knife. He had placed it in his belt and forgotten about it. He appealed conviction saying it had not been shown that he knew he still had the knife.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 06 May 2022; Ref: scu.182746