I have just watched Carry on Cabby with Sid James the hapless Mr Hawkins and his traditional ‘draughty’ black cabs. For those who remember, his wife played by Hattie Jacques starts “Glamcabs”. The new firm with attractive female drivers starts to take “speedy cabs” business so various plans are hatched to teach Glam Cabs a lesson. I thought it would be useful and a bit of fun to breakdown the scene and identify the criminal offences.
In the first scene, Sid James and others decide to dress one of his drivers in a Glam Cabs uniform so as to gain entry to the yard and wait until midnight before letting the other Speedy Cab drivers into the yard whereupon they plan to damage the Glam Cabs.
In real terms Sid James, Kenneth Connor and the “tea lady’ conspire to assault, unlawfully imprison and kidnap one of the drivers so as to remove her uniform. The tea lady assaults the Glam taxi driver with scalding hot tea, possiblyGBH contrary to section 20 offences against the persons act 1861 carrying a 5 year maximum sentence on indictment. However the conspiracy makes it triable only on indictment. Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 creates and defines the offence of statutory conspiracy. This offence is triable only on indictment, even if the parties agreed to commit a criminal offence triable only summarily.
Kidnapping is an offence under the common law of England and Wales. First, the nature of the offence is an attack on, and infringement of, the personal liberty of an individual. Secondly, the offence contains four ingredients as follows: (1) the taking or carrying away of one person by another; (2) by force or fraud; (3) without the consent of the person so taken or carried away; and (4) without lawful excuse. The force and fraud in this scene being the tea assault so they can take her in to the office.
There are a number of aggravating features: a significant degree of planning or premeditation, the number of perpetrators, the vulnerability of the victim, the fact that other offences are committed (assault, TWOC of the taxi, conspiracy to commit burglary) and finally the unpleasant circumstances of detention, such as degradation (stripping the victim). Such offences with aggravating features are often dealt with by 8-12 years imprisonment.
The taxi is then taken with out the owners consent(TWOC) which is defined by Section 12 of the Theft Act 1968 states that ‘a person shall be guilty of an offence if, without having the consent of the owner or other lawful authority, he takes any conveyance for his own or another’s use or, knowing that any conveyance has been taken without such authority, drives it or allows himself to be carried in or on it. Again triable on indictment due to the conspiracy. Upon conviction taking without consent can carry a fine of up to level 5 and/or up to 6 months’ imprisonment. The magistrates have a discretion to disqualify a person convicted of such an offence but cannot endorse that person’s driving licence with penalty points. In the case of an aggravated TWOC the maximum penalty in the Magistrates’ Court is a fine of up to level 5 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment and in the Crown Court up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
The ‘imposter’ is then ushered (with the other Glam Cabbies) to the changing room so that their uniforms can be ‘pressed’. Once inside in true carry on style Kenneth Connor observes and is gratified. This is likely to be vouyerism an offence contrary to s.67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person commits an offence if (a) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, he observes another person doing a private act, and (b) he knows that the other person does not consent to being observed for his sexual gratification. This offence is punishable with up to 2 years on indictment, not to mention the possibility of a sexual offences prevention order.
Once inside the yard the speedy cab drivers gain entry by the ‘imposter’ completing the conspiracy to commit burglary as criminal damage is planned once inside. A person commits burglary under s.9(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968 if he enters a building, or any part of a building, as a trespasser, with intent to either: steal anything in the building, inflict GBH on any person in the building or cause criminal damage (as in this case). This would also be committed to the crown court owing to the conspiracy and is subject to a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Of course I haven’t mentioned yet s.4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 the stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress. The elements of the section 4A offence are: a course of conduct; which amounts to stalking; and which causes another to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against him or her; or causes another serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on his or her usual day-to-day activities (such as running a business). In determining whether the defendant ought to know that the course of his or her conduct will cause the other person to fear that violence will be used against them or will cause the other person serious alarm or distress, the question to be determined is whether a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think it so.
There are two ways of committing this offence:
First, a course of conduct that amounts to stalking and causes the victim to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them (which is similar to the existing section 4 offence).
Second, a course of conduct which causes “serious alarm or distress” which has a substantial adverse effect on the day-to-day activities of the victim. This limb recognises the overall emotional and psychological harm that stalking may cause to victims, even where an explicit fear of violence is not created by each incident of stalking behaviour.
The phrase “substantial adverse effect on… usual day-to-day activities” is not defined in section 4A and thus its construction will be a matter for the courts. In this case it is likely to include: (1) the victim changing their routes to work, work patterns, or employment (2) the victim putting in place additional security measures at work (3) physical or mental ill-health and (4) the deterioration in the victim’s performance at work due to stress.