Criminal Damage

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Rhian Nicole Mason
This offence has its own act ­ The Criminal Damage Act 1971, Section 1 (1) is the basic offence,
Section 1 (2) is the aggravated offence and Section 1 (3) is arson. Both (2) and (3) include intent to
endanger life.
Criminal Damage
Section 1(1) ­ "A person without lawful excuse who destroys or damages property belonging to
another with intention or recklessness"
Actus Reus
Destroys or damages
To destroy property is to make it useless however the degree of damage is debatable.
It is likely to be criminal damage is someone is put to the expense of repair or cleaning.
If there is no impairment to usefulness or value then there is likely to be no criminal
What is one form of damage in one case may not be in another ­ a scratch on a painting
opposed to a scratch on a car etc.
Hardman v CC of Avon & Somerset Constabulary (1986) ­ Protesters used watersoluble paints on
pavements ­ was criminal damage due to the council needing to pay for cleaning.
R v A (Minor) (1978) ­ spat on policeman's coat ­ not criminal damage as easily removed.
Roe v Kingerlee (1986) ­ smeared mud on police cell ­ was criminal damage due to needing to
Morphitis V Salmon (1990) ­ scratches on scaffolding ­ not impair usefulness or value.
Fiak (2005) ­ D blocked toilet in cell with blanket ­ was criminal damage as had to be cleaned.
Wild creatures that have been tamed or kept in captivity are deemed property.
Land is included and intangible property is not.
Mushrooms, flowers and fruit that are growing wild are not property unlike theft.
Belonging to another
Includes having custody and control of property, a right to it or being in charge of it.
Not criminal damage if you destroy your own property.
Or property you honestly believe to be yours.

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Rhian Nicole Mason
Smith (1974) ­ damaged fixtures when removing wiring, fixtures were ultimately the
landlords yet D honestly thought they were his so could damage them.
Without lawful excuse
S5 (2) ­ two lawful excuses if the defendant believes that:
a) The owner would consent to the damage
b) The property was at risk and in immediate need of protection and what was done was
The defendant's belief must be honestly held but need not be reasonable, these are generally
defences.…read more

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Rhian Nicole Mason
Steer (1987) ­ D shot at house causing damage, danger to life was not a result of the damage but
of firing the gun
If the defendant intends to danger life that is enough, this is a pure Mens Rea matter.
This is under section 1 (3) and is defined as an offence committed by destroying or damaging
property by fire.
This is a very serious offence with a max sentence of life imprisonment.…read more


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