R v Pembliton [1874]

R v Pembliton [1874] LR 2 CCR 119 is an English criminal law case concerning transferred malice in cases of damage to property. The key issue was whether the doctrine of transferred malice could operate in a case involving the intentional harming of a person but resulting in damage to property.

The defendant was involved in a physical altercation after being ejected from a pub. In the course of the altercation, he threw a large stone intending to hit his opponents. However, he missed and struck a nearby window, causing over £5 worth of damage. The defendant was prosecuted under section 51 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861, which criminalised unlawfully and maliciously causing damage to property exceeding £5.

The court held that the doctrine of transferred malice could not operate in this case to transfer the malice intended to harm a person to the act of damaging property. The court interpreted the term "maliciously" in the statute to require intentional conduct. While acknowledging that reckless conduct might suffice, it concluded that the defendant's actions did not meet this standard. Therefore, the conviction was quashed.

In cases involving transferred malice, the court considers the intent behind the defendant's actions. The specific language of the statute and the nature of the intended harm or damage play a crucial role in determining the applicability of transferred malice. In this case, the court emphasised the requirement of intentional conduct for the term "maliciously" in the statute and found that transferred malice did not apply.
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