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Criminal Damage - Simple

Date Produced: 1 July 2011
Title: Criminal Damage
Offence: Criminal Damage - simple
Legislation: S1(1) CRIMINAL DAMAGE ACT 1971
Mode of Trial: Either Way. Treated as summary only if less than £5000
Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty: Maximum when tried on indictment: 10 years. Maximum when tried summarily: Level 5 fine and/or 6 months. Triable only summarily less than £5,000:
Maximum penalty: Level 4 fine and/or 3 months

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

  • Intentional / reckless.
  • Motivation - revenge or political
  • Hate Crime
  • Pre-planned.
  • Extent of damage.
  • Damage to a school or other public amenity.
  • Damage to emergency equipment.
  • Significant public or private fear caused.

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines (If Any)

R v Alden [2002] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 74
Sentencing powers when damage <£5000.

R v Gwynn [2003] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 41
The Crown Court should not impose consecutive sentences of greater than six months for offences of damage < £5000.

R v Ward and Others [1997]
The conspiracy to cause damage is not caught by S22 so the maximum sentence is 10y.

Relevant Sentencing Case Law

R v Francis (1985) 7 Cr.App.R.(S.) 222
The defendant cut the fence at Greenham Common. 12 months custody of which 6m was suspended.

R v Verdi [2005] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 43; [2004] EWCA Crim 1485
Guilty Plea. The defendant painted graffiti on tube trains causing £10 million worth of damage. 18 months YOI and ASBO.

R v Dolan & Whitaker [2007] 29/10/07
The appellants (20y and 18y) pleaded guilty to seven and six counts of criminal damage and asked for 12 and 8 offences to be TICed. The appellants were graffiti artist who tagged a number of railway carriages and buildings in the North West causing £12K damage. Sentences of 15 months and 12 months YOI were quashed and conditional discharges imposed.

CRASBOs against both appellants were quashed on the grounds that "There was no evidence that this conduct had caused harassment, alarm or distress to anyone, the nature of the material was not threatening or offensive, nor was there sufficient evidence that either was likely to re offend."

Verdi was distinguished on the grounds that 1) Verdi had been previously convicted 2) the graffiti in that case contained material that was both threatening and offensive.  3) Verdi pre dated the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and 4) Verdi did not purport to be a guideline case.

The Court of Appeal stated that conduct of this type passed the custodial threshold although the judge should have considered a community penalty as an alternative in the light of the appellant's "very positive mitigation".  Conditional discharges were imposed as the defendants had served the equivalent of 4 months.

The Court of Appeal did not make clear whether the CRASBOs were quashed on the grounds that the conduct was not anti-social or that the orders were not "necessary".

R v Dobson [2000] WL 1544618
Pleaded guilty to burglary x 2. The defendant (50y) broke into the house of his former partner and caused £650 worth of damage. Held repeated intrusion more of the character of malicious damage than burglary. Held 21 months reduced to 12 months (plus 3 months for other matters).

Racially Aggravated Damage

R v O'Brien [2003] 2 CR.APP.R.(S.) 66
The appellant pleaded guilty to two counts of racially aggravated criminal damage. The appellant's neighbours were a group of asylum seekers. Over a period of two months before the commission of the offences, he had indicated hostility towards them. Later, when some of the asylum seekers were at home, the appellant threw three bricks through the windows in their house. He then found an iron bar and attacked a car which he thought belonged to them. Damage was done to windows of the car. While doing the damage, the appellant shouted racial abuse.  Held 14 months reduced 6 months. PILL L.J. : The two-stage approach which has been indicated may not necessarily lead to a sentence which is appropriate. In our judgment, there could be circumstances in which the mechanical, or even the flexible, application of the 40 to 70 per cent guideline will not be appropriate. It may fail to have regard to the seriousness of the offence if an overall view is taken of it. There may be cases where the entire nature of the offence is changed by reason of the racial or religious aggravation which is present.

Ancillary Orders

  • Compensation

Consider Also

  • ABSO Restraining Order


ARCHBOLD 23-4, 23-46

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