Roe v Kingerlee [1986] Crim LR 735

Criminal damage – Criminal Damage Act 1971


Kingerlee was charged with criminal damage having placed mud graffiti on the wall of a police cell. The graffiti cost £7 to clean away. Kingerlee was subsequently charged with criminal damage. In the first instance, it was held that the facts of the case did not amount to criminal damage and the case was therefore dismissed. This was appealed by the prosecutor.


An important issue in this case was whether the graffiti and specifically, the extent of the graffiti, bearing in mind it could eradicated, could amount to criminal damage within the definition given in the Criminal Damage Act 1971. It was also important for judges to define the extent to which judges had to weigh damages in which cases.


The level of action deemed to constitute criminal damage was a matter of fact and degree for the justices to decide by applying their common sense. Having applied the case of Cox v Riley [1986] Crim LR 460 it was also held that the damage need not be permanent to be considered as criminal damage. In the current case, the graffiti on the walls was considered enough to amount to criminal damage and therefore the judges in the first instance had erred in deciding this was not the case. However, when considering the damage caused, it was satisfactory to make no order on the appeal.  This case demonstrates that graffiti is capable of being considered as damage in line with the Criminal Damage Act 1971, even though it can be washed away or painted over.