Section 9(1)(b) of the theft act 1968 specifies an offence of entering as a trespasser and then taking or damaging things from a building. Does conviction for this offence require a demonstration of mens rea? Or is it a strict liability thing, where the mere acts are themselves enough?

  • That section of the Theft Act 1968 specifically states "having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser." Neither that, not taking property therein, is likely to be done accidentally, so mens rea would be inherent in those acts? Jan 7, 2023 at 19:20
  • He may not have realised that a building was not open to the public, or that the item stolen was not abandoned and in fact belonged to someone. These are just scenarios off the top of my head, but there may be others. It may be that mens rea is an easy thing to prove here, but the question is still whether it must be proven. Jan 7, 2023 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


Mes rea is inherent in the definition of theft

A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly.

Dishonestly is a state of mind that the prosecution must prove.

  • Does that definition of steal definitely apply to the usage in the separate offence defined by s9/1/b? Jan 7, 2023 at 23:38
  • The above is not an offence - it is the definition in the act covering all usage
    – Dale M
    Jan 7, 2023 at 23:48

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