R v Campbell (1991) 93 Cr App R 350

Key point

  • D must be placed in a physical location where he can commit the intended offence to be guilty of attempt


  • D convicted of attempted robbery of a post office
  • D was stopped by police officers before entering and found to be carrying an imitation gun and a threatening note
  • D appealed, arguing that although he intended to rob the post office, he had changed his mind but was arrested before he could leave

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal allowed – D’s acts were merely preparatory

Watkins LJ

  • In relation to the application of s1(1) Criminal Attempts Act 1981, no reference to case law prior to the 1981 Act should be made (citing Gullefer and Jones)
  • ‘In order to effect the robbery it is equally beyond dispute it would have been quite impossible unless obviously he had entered the post office, gone to the counter and made some kind of hostile act’
  • The acts that D has performed in making his way to the post office were clearly preparatory acts
  • ‘If a person, in circumstances such as this, has not even gained the place where he could be in a position to carry out the offence, it is extremely unlikely that it could ever be said that he had performed an act which would properly be said to be an attempt’
  • ‘It would be unwise of a court to lay down hard and fast rules as to when, in varying circumstances, an attempt has begun. The matter has to be decided on a case by case basis as the issue arises.’


  • This suggests that D must have at least entered the post office to have been guilty of attempt
Inchoate Liability Cases
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