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R v Wenton [2010] EWCA Crim 2361 Court of Appeal

The appellant smashed a window with a brick in the early hours of the morning. He then threw into the house a petrol canister and lighted piece of paper.  The house was the home of a couple with three children who were all sleeping at the time of the incident. Luckily the paper went out without igniting the petrol and no fire occurred. The appellant was convicted on 5 counts of aggravated criminal damage under s.1(2) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 in that he had smashed the window and intended to endanger life. He appealed.

Held:

Appeal allowed. Convictions quashed.

The act of smashing the window did not create the endangerment to life. The endangerment to life came from the throwing of the petrol canister and lighted paper. As made clear in R v Steer [1988] AC 111, s.1(2) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 requires the endangerment to life to come from the damage to property.

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