Chapter 13 Interactive key cases

Two boys, aged 11 and 12, set fire to newspapers in the yard at the back of a shop and threw the lit newspapers under a wheelie bin. They left the yard without putting out the fire. The burning newspapers set fire to the bin, spread to the shop, and caused £1m damage. They expected the newspapers to burn themselves out on the concrete floor of the yard and it was accepted that neither of them appreciated the risk of the fire spreading in the way that it did. The trial judge had directed the jury in accordance with the objective test given in Caldwell.

Overruling Caldwell, the House of Lords held a person acts recklessly within the meaning of s 1 CDA 1971 in respect of a result when he is aware of a risk that it will occur, and it is, in the circumstances known to him, unreasonable to take that risk.

After a disagreement with his business partner, D went to his partner’s house and fired shots from a rifle at two windows and the door. No injuries were caused. D was charged with damaging property with intent, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, contrary to s 1(2) CDA 1971.

Intention or recklessness in s 1(2) is directed to danger to life caused by the damaged property and not by the way in which it is damaged.

Back to top