Legal Groundup

Legal Studies from the ground up

Application Excercise 2n

1. For the accused, Richard Barker, to be found guilty of burglary, the following elements needed to be established by the prosecution:

  • the accused entered a building (or part of a building) – Barker entered Curl’s house
  • the accused entered as a trespasser (without the right or the authority to enter the building, or to enter the building at that time) – Barker had Curl’s permission to enter his house (but had no right or authority to enter the building to remove goods)
  • the accused had the intent to steal something in the building (the accused does not need to successfully commit an offence involving theft to satisfy this element – he or she just needs to have had the intention to do so at the time of entering the building) – Mason J stated, “… the applicant entered the building with the intention of stealing, a purpose alien to the authority given to him.”

2. The prosecution would be able to establish that Barker was a trespasser in Barker’s house as he had the authority to enter the house if necessary, but not the authority to enter with the purpose of stealing.

3. Barker might have used mental impairment as a defence to avoid being found guilty of burglary. He could have argued that at the time of the offence, he was suffering from a mental impairment and did not know the nature and quality of his actions, or did not know that the conduct was wrong. Alternatively, Barker might have used mistaken identity as a defence. He could have argued that he was not at the building, or that the person seen committing the crime by witnesses was someone else.

4. Student responses will vary. Students might point out that consent as a defence is limited. For example, arguing that the victim let the accused into the premises would generally be limited to not including authority to remove goods from the premises.

5. Responses will vary. Students are likely to conclude that Barker should have been found guilty. For example, students might point out that Barker and the other man were found in the house, that Barker admitted taking the goods, and that he telephoned Curl to let him know that he had returned the goods.

6. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the victim of the burglary, Curl, suffered a loss of his property and may have felt unsafe or violated. It is likely that the victim needed to spend time dealing with police, working with insurance companies and replacing stolen items. Some items stolen or damaged may have had sentimental value or may have been irreplaceable which may have been devastating.

7. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the costs associated with assistance to victims, security and insurance as well as the identification, investigation, prosecution and prevention of burglary have an economic impact. The perception that there is crime in the community can increase, resulting in a feeling across society that individuals and households are not safe. People can become anxious or fearful, particularly if they believe that they could become victims of burglary. The prevalence of crimes such as burglary may encourage others to commit crime.