Fraud trial. Accused cashed a cheque from his former roommate without authorization. Accused testified that he believed the complainant owed him money for rent. Issue of whether accused could rely on the self-help doctrine as a defence.
As per Kingsbury, 2012 BCCA 462, and Must, 2011 ONCA 390, an accused’s personal belief that he or she has a legal right to property does not provide a defence to fraud. “Christopher Suzi’s belief that he was entitled to the property in question was a mistake of law and does not negative the mens rea of fraud. ‘Lack of colour of right is not embraced within the definition of fraud and therefore its relevance is not contemplated by the definition of the offence of fraud’: Kingsbury at para 52. Self-help is not available to the accused, and his belief in entitlement does not raise a reasonable doubt. If Mr. Suzi believed that he was owed money his remedy was to sue, not to commit fraud.”
J. Arend – Defence Counsel