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R v G & R [2003] 3 WLR House of Lords

The two appellants, aged 11 and 12, went camping for a night without their parents’ permission. The boys found some old newspapers outside the Co-op which they lit with a lighter and then threw them under a wheelie bin. They then left without putting them out assuming they would naturally burn out. In fact the burning newspapers set light to the wheelie bin and the fire spread to the Co-op shop and caused over £1m of damage.


The defendants' convictions were quashed. The House of Lords overruled MPC v Caldwell [1982] AC 341.

The appropriate test of recklessness for criminal damage is:
"A person acts recklessly within the meaning of section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 with respect to -

(i) a circumstance when he is aware of a risk that it exists or will exist;

(ii) 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 the risk."
Back to lecture outline on mens rea reckless
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