Еhe Criminal Damage Act 1971

Boater is charged under section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 which states that "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. . Boater admits injecting the dog but denies having the requisite intent1. Defence of accident as a result of the mislabelling of the ampoule which he claims was labelled as a harmless 'muscle relaxant'. This provides him with a shield against cross-examination on his record and bad character2.

Facts in issue: Did Boater intend to kill the dog and was he reckless as to his actions? The main issue here is that did he have the knowledge/awareness of his actions and what was going on? Mr Oars – prosecution witness. Statement is admissible. Issue one: the belief by Mr Oars that since Boater does not like this particular breed of dog, he does not take very good care of them. Since Mr Oars believes that Boater does not take ivery good care of these particular breed of dogs, there is a probability that he is liable for the death of his dog.

However, questions put forward to Mr Oars by the prosecution would be based as to whether he liked Mr Boater as a vet and not whether Boater was a good vet or not. The question of being a good vet is not relevant to the fact in issue. The fact that Boater does not like this particular breed would draw an inference that he would have been more careless. Therefore this links to the fact in issue; he doesn't like this particular breed of dog, therefore he was reckless as to his actions. Mr Oars's belief may be seen as being opinion evidence.

Opinions are conclusions or inferences from perceptions. At common law, opinions are not admissible to prove the truth of what may be inferred by those perceptions. But, based on Silverlockii where the solicitor, who had studied handwriting in his spare time, was allowed to testify as a handwriting expert. It was stated by Bingham LJ that …. "The essential questions are whether the witness study and experience will give a witness's opinion an authority that the opinion of one not so qualified will lack, and if so whether the witness in question is skilled and has an adequate knowledge.

If these conditions are met the evidence of the witness is in law admissible". Mr Oars would be able to testify as a witness given that he was described as an "enthusiastic" rottweiler breeder. This simply means he has adequate knowledge of this particular breed of dog. Therefore he can testify as to the snarling and growling of his dog when it saw boater where previously it was calm because as an expert witness you must give facts upon which opinion is based.

However it is necessary to point out that expert evidence is not really an issue here because a normal person would believe the same. That is, he doesn't like my dog; therefore he would not take very good care of them. Thus, based on the Criminal Damages Act 1971, if it is clear that Boater did not like the dog, there need not be an issue of intent, Boater might have been careless with taking care of the dog, and under the Act there is no need for the experience or testimony of an expert witness. Mr Oars himself can testify as to prove recklessness or carelessness of Boater.

Initially, the test put to the jury would have been an objective one as in Caldwell but now; the test for the jury would be one of subjective- which means it is now left to the jury to note if the accused has been reckless. Police officers – defence witness. Statement by police officer is admissible. Issue two: police statement that ampoules of muscle relaxant and ampoules of diamorphine were stored on the same shelf. Can inference be drawn from the police statement that the death of the dog was an act of intention or recklessness because both muscle relaxant and diamorphine were stored on the same shelf?

No. the reason is because the statement made by the police would back the defence of accident. So, inference that it was an accident can be drawn3. Thus, statement made by the police is admissible based on its relevance. However, the judge can exclude this by exercising her discretion to exclude. Issue three: police officer's discovery by the expert witness that 3 out of 4 other rottweilers died after being administered diamorphine while under Boater's care.

The fact that 3 out of 4 rottweilers died while being in Boater's care rebuts his defence of accident and makes his testimony of defence less credible. This is shown in the case of Smith (1915). In this case, the evidence that Smith's three brides all drowned in their baths were identical circumstances that leads inexorably to the conclusion that Smith murdered all of them4. Common law and statutes (section 101 Criminal Justice Act 2003) states that "bad character" of a party is inadmissible evidence but there are exceptions.

Similar fact evidence is one exception to the exclusionary rule on bad character that makes it admissible in court. Section 98 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 defines bad character as references in this chapter to evidence of a person's bad character are to evidence of, or of disposition towards misconduct on his part other than evidence which a) has to do with the alleged facts of the offence with which the Defendant is charged or b) Is evidence of this conduct in connection with the investigation or prosecution of offence. '