In the Supreme Court
R v Renard
Senior counsel for the appellant:
A wild animal, such as a fox, is property for the purposes of s 10(1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 if steps have been taken to trap it as this is a situation which is rightly described as being ‘in the process of reducing it to possession’.
- The foxes which were caught in the traps were already rendered into the possession of the owner of the traps so were property that belonged to Farmer Oak. As such, the appellant’s action in cutting open the traps amounted to the protection of property.
- The damage to the empty traps fell within the protection of property as the traps were set and baited thus were steps taken to the reduce the wild foxes into the possession of the farmer.
- Given the lack of clarity upon the status of wild animals that are in the process of being trapped, a principle should be determined and guidance can be found in the capture rule applied in the United States.
Section 10(1) Criminal Damage Act 1971
Pierson v Post 3 Cai R 175 (NY 1805)
Junior counsel for the appellant:
Lawful excuse is established on the basis of the subjective beliefs of the defendant.
- Section 5(3) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 explicitly states that lawful excuse is concerned with the honestly held beliefs of the defendant irrespective of their accuracy. As such, cases which introduced an objective element were in error and should be overruled.
- Alternatively, even if previous case law was correct in asserting that there is an objective element to s 5(2)(b), this relates exclusively to whether the property was damaged ‘in order to’ protect property and not the immediacy of the threat.
- The cases applied by the Court of Appeal could be distinguished as they involved situations in which the link between the damage caused and the protection of property were too indirect because the defendants were using damage to property to highlight a broader concern such as the safety of residential premises or the risks of nuclear war. In this case, the damage to the traps was directly connected to the protection of the foxes so the principles applied in earlier case law need not be applied.
R v Hunt (1978) 66 Cr App R 105
R v Hill and Hall (1989) 89 Cr App R 74
Chamberlain v Lindon  1 WLR 1252