Treacy v Director of Public Prosecutions: HL 1970

Blackmail was alleged under section 21 of the 1968 Act, the letter making the unwarranted demand with menaces having been posted from England to an intended victim in Germany.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. To allow an English court to have jurisdiction where elements of the offence occurred abroad, the last act constituting the actus reus had to be committed within the UK. ‘[W]e are willing to assume . . that the last constituent element does determine the place where the offence is committed. Where then is the offence of making a demand completed? . . The demand is not made when the threatening letter is written, because it may never be sent. But once the letter is posted, the demand is completed, and the offence of blackmail is committed.’ and ‘each sovereign State should refrain from punishing persons for their conduct within the territory of another sovereign State, where the conduct has had no harmful consequences within the territory which imposes the punishment.’ and ‘There is no rule of comity to prevent Parliament from prohibiting under pain of punishment persons who are present in the United Kingdom, and so owe local obedience of our law, from doing physical acts in England, notwithstanding that the consequences of those acts take effect outside the United Kingdom. Indeed, where the prohibited acts are of a kind calculated to cause harm to private individuals it would savour of chauvinism rather than comity to treat them as excusable merely on the ground that the victim was not in the United Kingdom itself but in some other state.’


Lord Diplock


(1970) 55 Cr App R 113, [1971] AC 537, [1971] 1 All ER 110


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Brixton Prison Governor, Ex Parte Rush QBD 1969
The court refused to return the applicant to Canada on a charge of conspiracy to defraud on the ground that the persons defrauded were all situated in the United States. The evidence did not disclose that the substantive crime contemplated by the . .
CitedRegina v Harden 1962
The appellant, in England, sent false hire purchase agreements to a company in Jersey, who posted back cheques to him. The court analysed the transaction in contractual terms, and held that as the post office was the appellant’s agent to carry the . .

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Manning CACD 24-Jun-1998
The defendant appealed his conviction for obtaining property by deception where part of the offence had taken place abroad.
Held: Smith should be overturned. The last act or terminatory theory remains the binding common law of England and . .
CitedSomchai Liangsiriprasert v Government of the United States of America PC 1991
(Hong Kong) Application was made for the defendant’s extradition from Hong Kong to the USA. The question was whether a conspiracy entered into outside Hong Kong with the intention of committing the criminal offence of trafficking in drugs in Hong . .
CitedRegina v Baxter 1972
The charge was attempting to obtain property by deception by posting letters from Northern Ireland to pools promoters in England. The demand had arrived in England and had been intended to do damage there.
Held: ‘The attempt to obtain the . .
CitedRegina v Wall 1974
The charge was fraudulent evasion of the restriction on importation of dangerous drugs. For that offence to be committed, the drugs in question must necessarily arrive in this country.
Held: If sending a letter from abroad to England . .
CitedRegina v Abu Hamza CACD 28-Nov-2006
The defendant had faced trial on terrorist charges. He claimed that delay and the very substantial adverse publicity had made his fair trial impossible, and that it was not an offence for a foreign national to solicit murders to be carried out . .
CitedPurdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 30-Jul-2009
Need for Certainty in Scope of Offence
The appellant suffered a severe chronic illness and anticipated that she might want to go to Switzerland to commit suicide. She would need her husband to accompany her, and sought an order requiring the respondent to provide clear guidelines on the . .
CitedSheppard and Another, Regina v CACD 29-Jan-2010
The defendants appealed against their convictions for publishing racially inflammatory material. They skipped bail during the trial, were convicted in their absence, and returned after being refused asylum in the US. The convictions related to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.196555