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The defendant appealed against his conviction for attempting to handle stolen goods. They were to be delivered to him in a van, but the meat was intercepted and recovered by the police. The defendant argued that he should not be convicted of attempting the impossible, since the goods were no longer stolen, having returned to lawful custody. The Court of appeal had allowed his appeal.

Held: The prosecutor’s appeal failed. For section 22 the goods had to be, or remain, stolen at the time of the attempted handling. It was not open to the prosecution to change a complete, but failed, charge of handling into an offence, by calling it an attempted handling. Acts on the way to commission of some act which if completed would not be an offence could not themselves be an offence.

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