The defendant was fighting in the street. He picked up a large stone and threw it at the people he had been fighting with. He missed and broke a window causing damage of a value exceeding pounds 5. The jury convicted the defendant, although finding that he had not intended to break the window.
Held: The conviction should be quashed. The words ‘unlawfully and maliciously’ were very widely used in the 1861 Act and the issue on appeal was whether the defendant had acted ‘maliciously’. The court interpreted ‘maliciously’ as requiring proof of intention, but were inclined to accept that intention could be shown by proof of reckless disregard of a perceived risk.
Blackburn J said: ‘The jury might perhaps have found on this evidence that the act was malicious, because they might have found that the prisoner knew that the natural consequence of his act would be to break the glass, and although that was not his wish, yet that he was reckless whether he did it or not; but the jury have not so found, and I think it is impossible to say in this case that the prisoner has maliciously done an act which he did not intend to do.’
Lord Coleridge CJ said: ‘it seems to me that what is intended by the statute is a wilful doing of an intentional act. Without saying that if the case had been left to them in a different way the conviction could not have been supported, if, on these facts, the jury had come to a conclusion that the prisoner was reckless of the consequence of his act, and might reasonably have expected that it would result in breaking the window, it is sufficient to say that the jury have expressly found the contrary.’
Lord Coleridge CJ, Blackburn J, Pigott B, Lush J and Cleasby B
(1874) LR 2 CCR 119, [1874-80] All ER 1163
Malicious Damage Act 1861 51
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v G and R HL 16-Oct-2003
The defendants, young boys, had set fire to paper and thrown the lit papers into a wheelie bin, expecting the fire to go out. In fact substantial damage was caused. The House was asked whether a conviction was proper under the section where the . .
Cited – Regina v Faulkner 1877
(Irish Court of Crown Cases Reserved) The defendant had set fire to a ship while stealing rum from its hold. He had been boring a hole by candlelight and some rum had spilled out and been ignited. It was conceded that he had not intended to burn the . .
Cited – Regina v Cunningham CCA 1957
Specific Intention as to Damage Caused
(Court of Criminal Appeal) The defendant wrenched a gas meter from the wall to steal it. Gas escaped. He was charged with unlawfully and maliciously causing a noxious thing, namely coal gas, to be taken by the victim.
Held: Byrne J said: ‘We . .
Distinguished – Regina v Latimer 1886
Two men quarrelled in a public house. One struck at the other with his belt. The glancing blow bounced off and struck the prosecutrix, wounding her severely. He was prosecuted for having unlawfully and maliciously wounded her, contrary to section 20 . .
Cited – Attorney-General’s Reference (No 3 of 1994) HL 24-Jul-1997
The defendant stabbed a pregnant woman. The child was born prematurely and died. The attack had been directed at the mother, and the proper offence was manslaughter.
Held: The only questions which need to be addressed are (1) whether the act . .
Applied – Regina v Welch 1875
The defendant faced charges of unlawfully and maliciously killing, maiming and wounding a mare under the Act.
Held: The trial judge was right to direct the jury to convict if they found that the defendant in fact intended to kill, maim or . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.186778