R v Becerra and Cooper (1976) 62 App R 212

Key point

  • For an accused to successfully withdraw from a criminal enterprise that he had participated in, the minimum requirement is unequivocal communication of his withdrawal to other perpetrators


  • D1 provided D2 with a knife prior to a burglary
  • D1 departed from scene when he saw a man coming and shouted ‘come on, let’s go’ to D2
  • D2 later killed the victim with the knife
  • D1 was convicted as accessory to the murder

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal dismissed – the words ‘come on, let’s go’ was insufficient as communication of withdrawal

Roskill LJ

  • The Lord Justice cited Sloan JA in the Canadian case R v Whitehouse (1941) 1 W.W.R. 112:
    • Something more than a change of intention and physical change of place is needed to withdraw from a common enterprise
    • What is required depends on the facts of each case, but there is one essential element: where practical and reasonable, ‘timely communication’ of the intention to abandon the common purpose to those who wish to continue