R v Wenton (Luke)
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Crim 2361.
The defendant threw a brick through a window of a house, smashing it. He then threw a canister of petrol through the cracked window, along with a lit piece of paper. Luckily, the paper extinguished before it could light the petrol. At the time, a couple and their children occupied the house.
The defendant was convicted of criminal damage being reckless as to the endangerment of life under s.1(2) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. He argued that he only committed ordinary criminal damage. This was because the brick which caused the property damage carried no danger to life, while the can of petrol and burning paper (which did endanger life) caused no criminal damage (the window was already broken). The prosecution argued that the brick and the petrol should be viewed as part of a ‘course of conduct’, since the brick allowed the petrol to enter the building.
- Was the defendant properly convicted of criminal damage recklessly endangering life?
The Court of Appeal overturned the conviction. The threat to life did not arise from the property damage, but from an act which was unrelated to and independent of the property damage.
This Case is Authority For…
For the purposes of criminal damage with intent/recklessness to endanger life, the danger to life must arise specifically from the property damage, not just from the defendant’s actions in the abstract.