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"UK Law - what am I missing here ?" Topic

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Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 9:32 a.m. PST

A man has been charged after John Constable's most famous work in the National Gallery was targeted.

Paul Manning, 57, of Kirkstone Road in Sheffield, will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court later charged with criminal damage.

A photograph was stuck to the 1821 painting, The Hay Wain, at the gallery in Trafalgar Square on Friday.

The attack did no lasting damage as the painting was quickly treated and it was back on display shortly after.

So he tried to, but failed to damage something. Is that still criminal damage ?

If you try to punch someone, but miss, is it still Grievous Bodily Harm ? Is it even assault ? Or is it attempted assault?

I don't know why he did this – and I think there is no good reason to do it and he was wrong to do it – but the charge confuses me.


Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member29 Jun 2013 9:41 a.m. PST

Well I presume the key is no *lasting* damage if I spray graffiti on a wall and someone cleans it off, I've still committed an offence…. (Oh, and your missed punch is assault, but not GBH, which is an offence that's defined by effect, not endeavour.)

DesertScrb29 Jun 2013 9:44 a.m. PST

The key phrase is "no lasting damage"--meaning it did do some damage, even though it was mitigated.

EDIT: Dom beat me to it!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 10:16 a.m. PST

Hmm…I do get that, and it's probably the right answer.

In this case it can't even have done actual temporary damage really – the painting must have been undamaged as they wiped the glue residue from the post-it note off. You can't repair a picture of this value in half an hour and get it back on the wall if there was the slightest particle of genuine damage.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member29 Jun 2013 10:30 a.m. PST

True, but you can probably make a case that it was solely down to the speed of intervention – the damage was prevented, but a damage-causing action still occurred.

Personal logo Sue Kes Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 11:38 a.m. PST

It's still illegal to tamper with a painting on display, regardless of what damage might have been caused, and another good reason to arrest and charge the perpetrator is to discourage others from doing the same thing.

They'd look a bit stupid if the next person with a grudge used superglue or scraped their message across a painting, and the museaum said "Oh, this has happened before but we let him off because it was only a post-it note."

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member29 Jun 2013 12:09 p.m. PST

Agreed entirely from a common sense perspective, but getting the law to tally with common sense can require some real gymnastics…. ;-)

Streitax Inactive Member29 Jun 2013 12:57 p.m. PST

Hence the lawyers, Dom, or solicitors or baristers or one of their ilk.

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 4:03 p.m. PST

I don't know about UK but here the intent is the key, I.e intent to damage. Also, it may incorporate actual damage or an attempt to do so when any other reasonable person, in similar circumstances, would know their act may cause damage.

Whatever the case he is a Bleeped text…….

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 4:43 p.m. PST

Oh agree – he's a complete waste of space, and this was a totally dumb thing to do.

It's just the "sound of one hand clapping" part of the charge that was making me think.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 4:56 p.m. PST

Damage is not limited in definition to something being permanently destroyed even partially.

Probably someone had to use something to clean the painting, even if it was only a paper towel. In that case damage was done to the institution. The cost of one paper towel was financial damage.

Now likely it also involved a person's time, possibly a person with specialized skills. Whatever that person's time is worth to the institution was also lost in the 30 minutes that they were repairing the painting.

So cost would equal the materials and opportunity cost in time that the institution gave up to fix the painting.

Even if the painting itself was not damaged the institution was.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2013 6:17 p.m. PST

Not to mention the emotional damage suffered by people who love a great work of art seeing it defaced, if only temporarily.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

KatieL Inactive Member30 Jun 2013 2:43 a.m. PST

"I don't know why he did this"

He's a campaigner from Fathers4Justice, and the photograph is of his son -- who apparently he's not allowed to see.

They've been running a campaign for a number of years -- previous incidents have involved dressing up as superheroes and climbing things (like Buckingham Palace). They then started having negotiations about changing the (IMO, somewhat dubious[2]) way the UK's family courts operate.

The background to their claims are that the family courts operate with a presumption that anything a child's mother says is true and that fathers are hence at an automatic disadvantage; and that (for example) almost no action is taken against mothers who deny fathers court ordered access.[1]

Those negotiations seem to have gone no-where and so they're restarting the 'direct action' protests.

[1] On this, I sort of feel they do have a bit of a point.

[2] The whole thing operates in secret and seems to have amazingly little accountability.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member30 Jun 2013 7:35 a.m. PST

Classic example of right cause, wrong actions though – it gets them in the press, but with a reaction of "oh, those dicks" rather than "the poor bloke" – doing bad things for a good cause rarely ends well….

Jovian1 Inactive Member30 Jun 2013 9:17 a.m. PST

In the U.S. we call that ATTEMPT and you face the same penalty, even if it did no lasting damage or you failed to complete the offense.

GeoffQRF Inactive Member01 Jul 2013 2:41 a.m. PST

S1.1 Criminal Damage Act 1971

A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

Case law suggests that damage must be more than de minimis. A v R (1978), where the defendant spat on a police officer's raincoat and was easily wiped clean, did not amount to criminal damage.

It is sufficient that any damage be merely temporary. From Morphitis v Salmon (1990), The authorities show that the term "damage" for the purpose of this provision, should be widely interpreted so as to conclude not only permanent or temporary physical harm, but also permanent or temporary impairment of value or usefulness

Grievous bodily harm means "really serious bodily harm". A wound needs to break the whole skin i.e. right through. There are lesser offences of battery and actual bolidy harm (ABH)

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