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Flashcards in Arson 012 Deck (46)
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Define knowledge

Simester and Brookbanks
Knowing means “knowing or correctly believing” ... the defendant may believe something wrongly, but cannot “know” something that is false.


Define recklessly.

R v Harney
Recklessness involves foresight of dangerous consequences that could well happen, together with an intention to continue the course of conduct regardless of the risk.


Define property.

s2, CA 1961
Property includes real and personal property, and any estate or interest in any real or personal property, [money, electricity,] and any debt, and any thing in action, and any other right or interest.


Define 'life'. Consider what life is NOT.

Life in this context means human life, and the danger must be to the life of someone other than the defendant.[Does not include animal life, and cannot be the life of the defendant himself]


Define claim of right.

s2, CA 1961
Claim of right, in relation to any act, means a belief at the time of the act in a proprietary or possessory right in property in relation to which the offence is alleged to have been committed, although that belief may be based on ignorance or mistake of fact or of any matter of law other than the enactment against which the offence is alleged to have been committed.



Gender neutral. Proven by judicial notice or circumstantial evidence.


Define obtain.

s217, CA 1961
Obtain or retain for himself or herself or for any other person.


Define benefit.

s267(4), CA 1961
Any benefit, pecuniary advantage, privilege, property, service, or valuable consideration.


Define loss.

R v Morley assessed by the extent to which the complainant's position prior to the offence has been diminished or impaired.


List three examples of circumstantial evidence from which an offender's intent may be inferred.

- offender's actions and words before and after event
- surrounding circumstances
- nature of the act itself


Discuss the process which produces fire.

Fire is the result of the process of combustion, a chemical reaction between fuel and oxygen, triggered by heat.


Define explosive.

s2, Arms Act 1983
Any substance or mixture or combination of substances which in its normal state is capable either of decomposition at such a rapid rate as to result in an explosion or of producing a pyrotechnic effect.
Includes: gun powder, gelignite, detonators
Does not include: firearms, fireworks[, molotof cocktail]


Discuss the subjective/objective test in relation to knowledge in 267(1)(a).

Subjective test: What was the defendant thinking at the time? Did the defendant know that human life was likely to be endangered by his actions?

Objective test: What would a reasonable person have thought in the same circumstances? Would a reasonable person have recognised the risk?


Outline the circumstances and findings of the key case law in regards to INTEREST in property.

In R v Wilson defendant was attempting to manufacture methamphetamine at his rented property. The clan lab ignited and the house burned down. In addition to drugs charges, Wilson was charged with recklessly damagin the house by fire under s267(1)(b).

Court of Appeal ruled that he could not be convicted of arson as his tenancy of property was an interest in that property and therefore provided him with a defence.


Outline the legislation in regards to Attempted Arson.

s268, Crimes Act 1961
Attempted Arson
Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who attempts to commit arson in respect of any immovable property or any vehicle, ship, or aircraft.


What are the two elements to be proved for attempted arson?

- intent to commit the offence
- a real and substantial step towards achieving that aim


Outline the legislative definition of Attempts.

s72(1), Crimes Act 1961
Everyone who, having an intent to commit an offence, does or omits an act for the purpose of accomplishing his object, is guilty of an attempt to commit the offence intended, whether in the circumstances it was possible to commit the offence or not.


What is the 'must know' case law regarding a defendant's conduct being sufficiently proximate to the offence?

R v Harpur
The Court may have regard to the conduct viewed cumulatively up to the point when the conduct in question stops...the defendant's conduct may be considered in its entirety, Considering how much remains to be always relevant, though not determinative.


Legally you are allowed to set fire to or damage your own property, however, there are exceptions to the general rule. What are these exceptions?

- you intend to cause loss to someone else as a result of the fire
- you know or ought to know that the fire will endanger life
- know that the fire is likely to destroy or damage someone else's property as a consequence


Define the offence of providing explosives to commit an offence.

s272, Crimes Act 1961
Providing explosives to commit an offence
Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who knowingly has in his or her possession or makes any explosive substance, or any dangerous engine, instrument, or thing, with intent to use or enable another person to use the substance, dangerous engine, instrument, or thing, to commit an offence.


Section 28, Fire Service Act 1975 infers powers to the person in charge of the Fire Service at a fire. What are those powers?

The right to:
- enter private property when it is on fire or endangered, or when entry is essential to performing a necessary duty
- close roads
- remove vehicles impeding the Fire Service. If necessary can break into vehicles for that purpose.
- remove people who are in danger or interfering with operations, using reasonable force if necessary.
- do anything else that is reasonably necessary for the protection of life and property


List five common methods of setting fires.

Chemical igniters
Electrical apparatus
Electric matches
Matches and cigarettes
Molotov cocktails
Timing devices


Upon arrival at a scene, the incident controller needs to be spoken to. What needs to be found out from the incident controller?

- time and date of call and manner in which it was received
- Service's opinions of informant
- what appliances attended
- details of people or vehicles acting suspiciously in vicinity
- state of the fire when Fire Service arrived
- action Fire Service has taken, particularly in entry and ventilation
- alterations Service has made to scene
- info the fire Service has about building security
-whether Service thinks fire is suspicious and why


How should an arson scene be examined?

The scene should be examined systematically, from the outside in.


What is the point of origin?

The exact location at which
- a component failed
- a fire was maliciously lit, OR
- an accidental fire originated


What needs to be taken into account during an external examination?

- Distance debris scattered, particularly if drums or cylinders have exploded
- Nearby alleyways/streets/driveways
- Adjoining premises which often reveal accelerant containers, forced entry attempts, broken windows, forced doors.
- Yards and outbuildings
- Periphery of structure itself


What might an examination of the surrounding area of the premises reveal?

- Accelerant containers
- Business is struggling
- Contents of outbuildings missing
- Property run down


What may be found in an examination of a damaged structure?

- Jemmy marks or other signs of forced entry
- Window glass broken before fire
- Burn patterns above doors/windows and V burn patterns on external cladding


What 14 indicators should be noted during a preliminary internal examination?

- Burn patterns
- Lack of clothing in wardrobe, drawers
- Areas of building needing repairs
- Missing family photos, furniture, personal items

- Position of clothes if not in wardrobe or drawer
- Open filing cabinets or missing files
- Low stock levels in commercial premises
- Accelerant containers or trails present
- Rifled premises

- Hardship signs
- Owner/occupier attitude
- Unusual odours
- Separate unrelated seats of fire
- Entry forced into an empty till


What will the Specialist Fire Investigator be looking for when you accompany them on a detailed internal investigation? List 10.

- smoke deposits and burn patterns
- spalling
- soot deposits on window glass and craze patterns

- damage to skirting board
- damage to wall studs
- damage to roofing timbers
- damage to window sills and door edges

- floor areas burned through
- under floor inspection
- removal of fire debris

- elimination of false low burns