Samuels v Stubbs – Case Summary

Samuels v Stubbs

Supreme Court (South Australia)

Citations: (1972) SASR 200.


The defendant deliberately jumped on a police officer’s hat, denting it. It was possible to remove the dent without considerable effort or cost. The defendant was charged with criminal damage. He argued that he was not guilty because he did not ‘damage’ the hat.

  1. Did denting the hat amount to criminal damage?

The Supreme Court held that the defendant had damaged the hat by causing ‘temporary functional derangement’ to it.

This Case is Authority For…

The Court gave guidance on how to determine if property has been damaged:

‘‘[I]t is difficult to lay down any very general rule and, at the same time, precise and absolute rule as to what constitutes “damage”. One must be guided in a great degree by the circumstances of each case, the nature of the article and the mode in which it is affected or treated…the word is sufficiently wide in its meaning to embrace injury, mischief or harm done to property, and that to constitute “damage” it is unnecessary to establish such definite or actual damage as renders property useless, or prevents it from serving its normal function.’’