Crime CLXXVII-Criminal Damage XVII

In R v Miller (1983) the defendant was a vagrant who returned to the property he was squatting in after he’d been out drinking. He went to sleep with a lit cigarette in his hand or while he was smoking and woke up to find that he’d started a fire. Instead of putting the fire out, he moved to another room without giving any thought to the fire he’d started and ended up causing damage in excess of £800.

At the trial the prosecution did not rely on the fact that the defendant had started the fire but based their case on the fact that having started the fire the defendant took no steps to put it out i.e. omission and the damage that occurred was caused by the defendant’s omission.

It was held that in instances where the defendant had created a dangerous situation, he is under a duty to ensure that he takes reasonable steps to resolve the situation. The defendant can be found guilty of criminal damage via omission if it was his actions that caused the dangerous situation and his omission further aggravated or exacerbated the situation.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward

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