Procedural History (PH):
The appellants were charged on 22nd August 2000; without lawful excuse damaged by fire; commercial premises and being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged. The appellants stood trial before Judge Maher in March 2001. The appellants’ case at trial was that they expected the fire to extinguish itself on the concrete. It was accepted that neither of them conceived that there was any risk of the fire spreading. At the start of the trial submissions were made on the meaning of “recklessness”. The judge ruled that he was bound to direct the jury in accordance with R v Caldwell . The Judge then directed the jury on the three matters he listed. The jury was unable to come to a decision on the same day but returned on another day and convicted the appellants. Upon receiving the verdict the judge adjourned the proceedings for a pre-sentence report. The judge made a one year supervision in the case of each appellant.
On the night of 21st -22nd August 2000, the appellants, then aged 11 and 12 respectively went camping without the permission of their parents’, they entered the back yard of the Co-op Shop in Newport Pagnell. They lit some newspapers that they had found. Both defendants threw some lit newspaper under a large plastic wheelie-bin. The defendants left the yard before putting the fire to rest. As a result the newspapers caught fire to the first wheelie-bin which then spread to the other wheelie-bin then spread to the eave, guttering, fascia and the roof and eventually spread to the adjoining buildings. The damages approximated to a sum of 1million Pounds Sterling.
1. Did the defendant damage by fire the building and the commercial premises? 2. Would the risk created by the defendant been obvious to an ordinary, reasonable, bystander? 3. Had the defendant...