Skip to main content

Clause 14—Provisions As To Malicious Damage To Property)

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

(1) If any person wilfully or maliciously commits any damage to any real or per sonal property whatsoever, either of a public or private nature, and the amount of the damage does not exceed twenty pounds, he shall be liable on summary conviction—

  • (a) if the amount of the damage exceeds five pounds, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds; and
  • (b) if the amount of the damage is five pounds or less, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months or to a fine not exceeding five pounds;
  • and in either case to the payment of such further amount as appears to the Court reasonable compensation for the damage so committed, which last-mentioned amount shall, if the property damaged was private property, be paid to the party aggrieved:

    Provided that this provision shall not apply where the alleged offender acted under a fair and reasonable supposition that he had a right to do the act complained of.

    (2) So much of Section fifty-one of the Malicious Damage Act, 1861, as limits the cases which may be dealt with under that Section to cases where the damage, injury, or spoil exceeds five pounds shall be repealed, but a Court of Summary Jurisdiction shall not commit any person for trial for an offence under that Section unless it is of opinion that the damage, injury, or spoil exceeds five pounds.

    (3) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as preventing a Court of Summary Jurisdiction from committing a person for trial for an offence notwithstanding that the offence is an offence which the Court has power to deal with summarily under this Section.

    I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to add the words,

    "Provided that a Court of Summary Jurisdiction shall not deal with any offence (in which the damage exceeds five pounds) charged against a person previously convicted of an offence of this nature."
    The object of this Amendment is to prevent a person who has committed a similar offence being dealt with at Petty Sessions, and to provide that the person should be sent on to Quarter Sessions. I have been asked by those responsible for the administration of the criminal law to submit this proposal.

    The difficulty is that the fact of a person having been previously convicted would not be proved until after conviction. The Amendment appeared on the Paper with a different part of the Clause and in that position seemed unintelligible. As it is now in its right place, I have not been able to give much study to it.

    There would be no difficulty in the matter. The case would have been completed and directly it became apparent that there had been a previous conviction the person would be sent to the Quarter Sessions.

    No more than now when the case is investigated before the person is committed.

    Suppose the Court of first instance was not aware of the previous conviction, then the conviction Mould be quashed on the prisoner proving that previous conviction.

    I hardly think the prisoner would be likely, after a Petty Sessions Court sentence, to inform the authorities and get a rule to quash the conviction to get a heavier sentence. It would be against human nature.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.