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Peculiar Cases: Prisoners Pilfering Pigeons and Other Stories

Peculiar Cases: Prisoners Pilfering Pigeons and Other Stories

Posted by zenaira-khan | 16 March 2016
The United States may be known for its bizarre cases, but the courtrooms of England and Wales are not immune to their fair share of the downright peculiar court cases.

Pringles are … crisps

In the famous case of The Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue & CustomsProcter and Gamble [2009] EWCA Civ 407 before the Court of Appeal, the Lord Justices determined that Pringles are crisps, and therefore they are taxable under the VAT Act 1994. This may come as a surprise for a product that is less than 50% potato. It is slightly surprising that the company brought the case arguing they were not crisps, ergo they are processed, only to lose the case and be left with a tax bill in the millions.

The one with the Renault Clio

Cathy McGowan entered a radio competition to win a Renault Clio in 1992. She won, so you can understand her disappointment when she was presented with a toy version of the car, as opposed to the real car. As a result of this she sued Radio Buxton for £8000 in damages—the cost of a new Renault Clio. Sitting in court, Judge James Orrell declared that the station had entered into a legally binding contract to supply her with the real car and therefore awarded £8000 of damages in her favour.

Choppidy, choppidy, chop: the butcher’s on the block

Oh, Brian Clapton and his penchant for chopping his meat early in the morning. In November 2007 Barking and Dagenham Council issued a noise abatemenet order against the butcher, preventing him from chopping meat between 6 and 8am on weekdays and before 9am on weekends, because of complaints from the flat above his busibess that he was chopping meat too loudly. The landlady claimed that some tenants even left the leasehold flat because of all the noise! Last time we checked Mr Clapton hadn’t installed the soundproofing required if he was to carry on in this way.

The curse of the cricket club

Good ol’ Lord Denning once sat on the bench in Miller and Another v Jackson and Another [1977] Q.B. 966, a case brought by property owners whose gardens abutted the perimeter fence of a cricket ground. The problem they had was that wayward cricket balls would enter their garden causing them “apprehension of personal injury” and “actual damage to the house”. Not even a 15ft fence could stop them! Geoffrey Lane L.J. wasn’t so impressed when he declared that the precedent set in Sturges v. Bridgman (1879) 11 Ch.D. 852, had to be followed. “It is no answer to a claim in nuisance for the defendant to show that the plaintiff brought the trouble on his own head by coming to live so close to the defendant’s premises that he would inevitably be affected by the defendant’s activities where no one had been affected before”.

Prisoners pilfering pigeons

The year is 1813 and a Mr William Seeling finds himself before court on the charge of stealing pigeons. How, one asks? Well according to the pigeon owner, Joseph Barr, he had nine pigeons stolen one April night, seven of which he located at two pigeon dealing shops. When the owner of one shop identified the prisoner as the man who tried to sell him three of the pigeons, he proceeded to lock the prisoner in the shop. As the prisoner tried to make his escape, a pocket was torn from his jacket. This single pocket went on to become the evidence that fitted the prisoner to being the man trying to sell stolen pigeons. The hole in his jacket where the pocket used to be, and indeed fitted, was enough to put the crook to the crime.


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