R v Gullefer [1990] 1 WLR 1063

Key point

  • The common law tests for actus reus of attempt preceding the 1981 Act have no application


  • D climbed onto a greyhound racetrack in an attempt to stop a race
  • The dog on which he had placed a £18 bet was losing and he had hoped to recover his stake by stopping the race, the stewards decided not to stop the race
  • D was charged with attempting to steal the £18 from the bookmaker under s1(1) and s1(4) Criminal Attempts Act

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • Appeal allowed – D had not committed acts which were more than merely preparatory to the offence of theft

Lord Lane CJ

  • The test is whether ‘D had gone beyond the realm of mere preparation and had embarked upon the actual commission of the offence’
  • It is not necessary to apply the two conflicting lines of case law that precedes the 1981 Act, under which D must have reached a ‘point of no return’ in respect of the full offence, or must have done an act ‘forming part of a series of acts’ which constitute the crime
  • The 1981 Act provides a midway course between both different lines of authority: it does not require that D reach a point beyond retreat and ‘more than merely preparatory’ defines where the ‘series of acts’ begins
Inchoate Liability Cases
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