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  1. 1. SatvirDaroch Page 1 Criminal Damage Three mainelementsof Criminal damage governedbythe Criminal DamagesAct1971 s1.  Criminal Damage s1(1)  Criminal Damage withintenttoendangerlife s1(2)  Arsons1(3) If the offence iscriminal damage withintenttoendangerlife then s1(2) ands1(3) shouldbe used. Section1(1) provides; ‘a person who withoutlawful excusedestroys or damagesany property belongingtoanother intendingto destroy or damageany suchproperty or beingreckless as to whether anysuch property wouldbe destroyed or damaged shallbe guilty of an offence.’ Actus Reus; Destroysor damages,property,belongingtoanother,withoutlawful excuse. Mensrea; Intentiontodestroyordamage propertybelongingtoanother’or‘recklessnessastowhethersuch property isdestroyed. Actus Reus Destroys or Damages Samuelsv Stubbs (1972) WaltersJ saidit was difficulttolaydowna general rule aboutwhatwould amountto damage.It woulddependonthe particularcircumstances,type of damage andhow badly it wasdamaged. Hardman v ChiefConstable of AvonConstabulary (1986) membersof the CND,nuclear disarmamentgroup, usedwatersoluble paintsonthe pavementtosymbolise vaporisedvictimsof Hiroshimaonthe 40th year anniversary.Thiswashedawaywithrainbuttheir convictionforcriminal damage was upheldasthe council wasput to the expense of cleaningthe pavements. Compare that case with R v A (1978) where the d spat ona policeman’sovercoatbutwasnotguilty of criminal damage asthe spitcouldhave easilybeenwipedawaywithadampcloth.It would appearto be criminal damage if someoneisputto the expenseof repairingorcleaning. It will notamountto criminal damage if there isnoimpairmentof use asshownin Morphitisv Salmon (1990) where a scratch on some scaffoldingwasnotdeemedascriminal damage asitdid not preventitsuse oraffectitsvalue. Property s10(1)
  2. 2. SatvirDaroch Page 2 The same definitionforpropertyasfoundinTheftshouldbe appliedwithone real difference, intangible propertycanbe stolenbutcannotbe damaged. Belongingto another The propertymustbelongtoanother.Similartotheft,thisiswide andincludescustodyorcontrol of propertyandhavingsome rightin the property.Youcannot be charge fordestroyingyourown property,norcan you be chargedwhere youbelievethe propertyisyourown.Thisbelief doesnot have to be justifiedaslongasit isheldhonestly. Smith (1974) tenantshadthe permissionof theirlandlordtoinstall wiringinhisproperty.Before leavingthe tenantsremovedthe wiringbutindoingsodamagedthe floorboards.Once the wires were downtheywere consideredthe propertyof the landlordbuttheirconvictionwasquashedby the CoA onthe basisthattheyhonestlybelievedthe wireswere theirown. Withoutlawful excuse There isa defence of lawfulexcusethatcanbe reliedupon.Thisisnotapplicable tocriminal damage endangeringlife.Lawful excuse iswhere the ddestroyspropertyinthe beliefthat;  The personentitledtoconsentwouldhave consented tothe destructionordamage if they had knownaboutitand its circumstancess5(2)(a) or  It was necessaryinordertoprotectpropertybelongingto himself oranotherwhichhe believedwasinimmediate needof protectionandhe believedthe meansadoptedwas reasonable,havingregardtoall the circumstancess5(2)(b). Section5(2)(a) Jaggard v Dickenson(1981) d was drunkand broke intoa house believingitwasa friend’shouse. She believedthatherfriendwouldhave consentedtothe damage caused.Onappeal the court said that she shouldbe acquitted because herdrunkennessshouldnotplayafactor,her beliefwas enough. DPP v Blake (1993) a vicaruseda markerpento write biblical quotationsonawall outside parliament.He arguedconsent,statinghe hadGod’sconsent.He failedasthe act mentionsnothing aboutGod. Section5(2)(b) DPP v Blake (1993) the vicaralso claimedthatwithhisprotest he wasaimingtoprotect the property of the people of the Gulf.He failedbecausethe peopleof the Gulf were toofaraway to benefitfrom hisactions. Chamberlinv Lindon (1998) d wasallowedthe defence whenhe destroyeda neighbour’s wall because he honestlybelievedthatthe wall wasblockinghisrightof accessand he adopteda reasonable course of action.
  3. 3. SatvirDaroch Page 3 MensRea  Intentiontodestroyordamage propertybelongingtoanother;or  Recklessnessastowhethersuchpropertyisdestroyedordamaged. Note that recklessnessisnowsubjectiverecklessness.Thiscomesfromthe case of Gemmell and Richards (2003). The Lords,nowthe Supreme Courtoverruledtheirowndecisioninthe case of Caldwell (1982). The questionthe courtsask isdid the d’recognise the riskof damagingor destroyingproperty(andof endangeringlife forthe aggravatedoffence? Gemmell andRichards (2003) two boys,aged11 and 13 setfire to some papersat the back of a shopand damagedseveral buildings. Theywere convictedof arsononthe basisof Caldwell (the damage was obvioustoa reasonable person.) Onappeal tothe Lords,theyusedthe Practice Statement1966 to overrule theirpreviousdecision.Theysaidthatthe previouslaw waswrongand the d’ had to understandthat there wassome sortof risk. Destroyingor damaging property withintent to endangerlife. Alsoknownbyaggravatedcriminal damage,iscoveredbySection1(2) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 whichprovides; (2) A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another— (a) intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and (b) intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered; shall be guilty of an offence. This is similar to criminal damage but is regarded much more serious as the d’ intended to or was reckless with regard to endangering life. This crime carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The other main difference is that the damage does not have to be to property belonging to another. It is also important to note that there does not have to be danger to life, it is enough that the d’ realised that life would be endangered. “intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another” can be illustrated by the case of Steer (1987) where the d’ shot a window of a former business partner. He appealed and was successful. HL held that the danger had to come from the damage to the property (broken glass) rather than the original action (firing the shot.)
  4. 4. SatvirDaroch Page 4 Arson Section1(3) provides; (3) An offence committed under this section by destroying or damaging property by fire shall be charged as arson. Thisagain isconsideredaveryseriousoffence carryingamaximumsentenceof life.Itiscriminal damage but if the damage is caused byfire itis consideredarson. MPC v Caldwell (1982) where the dwas convictedof arsonwhenhe setfire to a chair ina hotel he workedin.The fire wasput outbefore anyone wasinjuredbuthe hadendangeredthe livesof the residents. Elliotv C (1983) a 14 year oldgirl withverylow intelligence wasconvictedof arsonbysettingher neighbour’sshedalight.She putwhite spiritonthe floorandsetfire to itto stay warm.The oldtest of objective reasonablenesswasusedandshe wasjudgedbythe standardof the reasonable person. Wouldthe reasonable personhaddone the same?Underthe more recenttestshe wouldnothave beenconvicted. Denton (1982) d setfire to hisemployer’smill andsuccessfullyarguedthatthe ownerhad consentedashe wanted to fraudulentlyclaimmoneythroughthe insurance.The courtsaidthatif the damage was causedwiththe intenttoendangerlife,thennodefence wouldhave been available.