Damaging property

The cases identified here provide examples of the way judicial officers have dealt with some of the issues raised in the context statement.

Click on the citation to be directed to a summary of the case in the Case Database.

  • Laa v The Queen [2020] VSCA 136 (28 May 2020) – Victorian Court of Appeal

    [50] ‘… confrontational aggravated burglaries, in the setting of an underlying domestic dispute, are all too prevalent in our society. They are calculated to cause lasting and serious physical and emotional harm to the victim. By their nature, such offences have the potential to escalate into incidents that result in serious harm and, on occasion, human tragedy. For that reason, general deterrence is a sentencing purpose of particular significance in such cases. It is important that the courts, by sentences imposed in such cases, make it clear that those persons who contemplate indulging in such a form of conduct will, upon apprehension, lose their right to be at liberty in society for a substantial period of time.’

    [51] ‘In addition, it is important, in cases such as this, that the courts express their condemnation of the kind of conduct engaged in by the applicant. Ms M was entitled to feel safe and secure in her own home. The offending in this case constituted a serious violation by the applicant of that fundamental right.’

  • BJH v CJH [2016] QDC 27 (26 February 2016) – District Court of Queensland
    Rackermann DCJ at [11]: ‘The action of the appellant in seizing the aggrieved’s mobile telephone was behaviour which, in the circumstances, was coercive - being designed to compel the aggrieved to do something which she did not wish to do (ie come downstairs to discuss matters of concern to the appellant). Further, the appellant responded to the aggrieved’s attempt to get her telephone back by, amongst other things, throwing the phone onto the floor thereby damaging it. That the phone was discarded in a throwing motion had support in the evidence’.
  • Groenewege v Tasmania [2013] TASCCA 7 (26 July 2013) – Court of Criminal Appeal of Tasmania

    Porter J at [52]-[53]: ‘The appellant intentionally set fire to the house and intentionally caused its entire destruction. His motive for doing so was to exact some sort of vengeance on his estranged wife intending to destroy his wife's interest in the building and its availability as a home. He told police that he set the fire "because if I couldn't have it, no one could". He also caused the destruction of the home of his four young children, one of whom suffers from a significant disability. He caused the total destruction of the belongings of the whole of his family’.

    ‘This was obsessive and possessive conduct, involving some violence, committed in the aftermath of a broken relationship. It is the type of conduct which simply cannot be tolerated. Ms Hartnett submitted that the arson crime could be also regarded as a crime of family violence, in addition to the crime of assault. As such the course of conduct involved a breach of trust: Parker v R 57/1994 (AustLII [1994] TASSC 94) per Underwood J at 11. It is unnecessary to decide whether the label of family violence can be correctly applied to the crime of arson in these circumstances. The notions underlying the concept of a breach of trust are effectively the same. To intentionally deprive a spouse of his or her home in such a way amounts to very hurtful subjugation, and exploits a position of vulnerability’.
  • DPP v Meyers [2014] VSCA 314 (4 December 2014) – Victorian Court of Appeal

    The Court at [45] and [46]: ‘We would wish to endorse the remarks in Filiz about the particular seriousness of offending involving former domestic partners. Violence of this kind is alarmingly widespread, and extremely harmful. The statistics about the incidence of women being killed or seriously injured by vengeful former partners are truly shocking. Although the cases under consideration do not fall into that worst category, they are symptomatic of what can fairly be described as an epidemic of domestic violence’.

    ‘General deterrence is, accordingly, a sentencing principle of great importance in cases such as these. Those who might, in a mood of anger or frustration or bitterness, contemplate this kind of violent entry into the home of a former spouse or partner must realise that, if they do so, they will almost certainly spend a long time in prison’.
  • The State of Western Australia v Bennett [2009] WASCA 93 (26 May 2009) – Supreme Court of Western Australia (Court of Appeal)
    Miller JA at [50]: ‘It cannot be doubted that the offence of arson committed in this instance was serious enough to bring it within the category of 'very serious cases of arson' in which a range of sentences of 4 to 7 years' imprisonment, in 'pre-transitional' terms, has been identified. This is so because the respondent's offending was apparently motivated by revenge, it caused the destruction of a residential building, and it was against the background of a violent domestic relationship’.
  • Rimington v The State of Western Australia [2015] WASCA 102 (29 May 2015) – Supreme Court of Western Australia (Court of Appeal)
    Beech J at [69]: ‘The sentencing judge correctly identified a number of features of the appellant's offending that made it a very serious example of the offence of arson: (1) the appellant lit three fires over a period of approximately 1 hour; (2) the offences involved a degree of preparation; (3) the offences were founded on the appellant's anger towards his ex-wife. His intention was to destroy the properties that he set on fire in order to defeat his ex-wife's claim to those properties; (4) the appellant acted with 'grim determination'; (5) the offences endangered the lives and safety of a number of people; (6) the fires the subject of counts 3 and 4 were lit at homes in residential areas and caused fear and distress to people living nearby; (7) the fires caused very extensive damage totalling approximately $1.5 million; (8) at both the Honeyeater Loop and Piggot Way properties, the appellant sought to deflect the concerns of a neighbour who saw the appellant preparing to light a fire; (9) as the victim impact statement reveals, the appellant's offences have had devastating and enduring effects on his former wife and on their children’.