Gleaning

“It wasn’t stealing, Madam.” It was TheBusker during his closing speech yesterday at Taunton Magistrates Court. He had been hired at great expense by a local solicitor to come down to the West Country to get his son off a charge of scrumping apples. By coincidence I had been in a case in the county court down there and went to watch his case once mine was finished.
“What do you mean it wasn’t stealing. This boy stole twenty-five apples out of Mrs Frobisher’s orchard. If that’s not stealing, what is?”
“Madam, when you had Peter Rabbit read to you as a child, were you on the side of Peter as he took the carrots from the field or that of Mr McGregor?”
“Yes but he was a fictional character, it’s hardly the same.”
“But it’s the same as those times you have been blackberrying with your family and strayed off a public footpath and into a farmer’s field or watched as your child ran across that field and delighted in collected mushrooms for the evening meal.”
“MrBusker, however sympathetic you make your case sound, how can you say that climbing into an orchard and running off with all those apples isn’t stealing?”
“Madam, it’s because when you take something that it’s customary for everyone to do at one time or another, it isn’t stealing as you don’t have the necessary dishonest intent.”
“So what is it then MrBusker? Enlighten me.”
“Madam, the correct word is gleaning. Peter gleaned the carrots, you gleaned the blackberries, your children gleaned the mushrooms and yes my client gleaned the apples. Without the element of dishonesty, none of these people, Madam, are thieves and thankfully, the common law of England does not yet recognize a crime of gleaning.”

With which the magistrate dismissed the charges and the solicitor’s son walked free.

February 9, 2016 · Tim Kevan · 6 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

6 Responses

  1. BabyBFan - January 31, 2008

    Maybe Judge Jewellery should try that one next time?

  2. FS - January 31, 2008

    Brilliant as always.

  3. Brian Cassells - February 1, 2008

    As an old Aboriginal Legal Aid trial lawyer in Darwin Northern Territory Australia I’ll shall bear in mind this defence which does not reek entirely of novelty.
    Translation to “gleaning” alcohol may be a little difficult I fear.

  4. JP - February 1, 2008

    Oh dear Baby B, may be good for a laugh but you are seriously out of date if you think magistrates nowadays would fall for that. Mind you, I have had many a baby b up before me who still try it on thinking they are addressing a bunch of do gooding woodentops without two adjacent brain cells. Well sorry, but it just won’t do (as my pupil master used to say…)

  5. VEE - February 1, 2008

    TheBusker is brilliant, but I wasn’t convinced by that argument. Sorry

  6. Martin - February 5, 2008

    And i’m afraid even the stereotypically bored, overstressed and incompetent CPS lawyer opposite the busker would waste no time whatsoever before enlightening the bench as to what the definition of ‘dishonesty’ is after R v Ghosh…