R v A (A Juvenile) – Case Summary

R v A (A Juvenile)

Crown Court

Citations: [1978] Crim LR 689.


The defendant spat at a police officer. The spit landed on the police officer’s jacket, but did not cause any permanent damage. The defendant was charged with criminal damage. The defendant argued that he was not guilty because the spit could be easily wiped and had no permanent effect.

  1. Did the spit on the coat amount to damage?

The defendant was exonerated. Spitting on property in a way which leaves no stain and requires no substantial effort to clean is not criminal damage.

This Case is Authority For…

‘Damage’ requires the property to be rendered imperfect or less operative.


The court noted that the outcome of the case might have been different if the defendant had spat on delicate or difficult to clean material, such as a wedding dress.