Previous Topic

Next Topic

Book Contents

Book Index

7.5.20 - Arson Causing Death

Click here to obtain a Word version of this document.


  1. Arson causing death is an offence under Crimes Act 1958 s197A.
  2. A number of related but discrete offences have also been created by s197 and the surrounding provisions. These are addressed separately in the following topics:
  3. The common law crime of arson has been abolished (Crimes (Criminal Damage) Act 1978 s3).


  4. A person is guilty of arson if he or she commits the offence of arson as defined in s197, and thereby causes the death of another person (Crimes Act 1958 s197A).
  5. Consequently, the elements of arson causing death consist of:
  6. The prosecution does not need to prove that the accused intended to cause the death, or was reckless as to that result. It is sufficient to prove that the accused had the mental state necessary for the offence of arson, and that death resulted.
  7. See the following topics for information concerning the elements of ss197(1), (2) and (3):
  8. See Arson for information on causing damage or destruction by fire and an intention to cause damage or destruction by fire.
  9. See Causation for information concerning what it means for the accused’s acts to have "caused" a person’s death.



[1] It is unclear whether the accused must intend to damage or destroy the property by fire, or whether a general intention to cause damage is sufficient. As a matter of prudence, it is assumed that the more specific intention is required. This is the approach taken in G Williams, Textbook of Criminal Law, 2nd ed, 913 and R v Cooper (G) and Cooper (Y) [1991] Crim LR 524 . But compare A Ashworth, "Transferred Malice and Punishment for Unforeseen Consequences" in P Glazebrook, Reshaping the Criminal Law (1978), 92.


Last updated: 19 October 2011

In This Section - Charge: Arson Causing Death - Checklist: Arson Causing Death

See Also

7.5 - Dishonesty and Property Offences

7.5.1 - Theft

7.5.2 - Robbery

7.5.3 - Armed Robbery

7.5.4 - Burglary

7.5.5 - Aggravated Burglary

7.5.6 – Home Invasion

7.5.7 – Aggravated Home Invasion

7.5.8 – Carjacking

7.5.9 – Aggravated Carjacking

7.5.10 - Handling Stolen Goods

7.5.11 - Recent Possession

7.5.12 - Obtaining Property By Deception

7.5.13 - Obtaining a Financial Advantage By Deception

7.5.14 - Making or Using a False Document

7.5.15 - Blackmail

7.5.16 - Criminal Damage

7.5.17 - Criminal Damage Intending to Endanger Life

7.5.18 - Criminal Damage With a View to Gain

7.5.19 - Arson

7.5.21 - Intentionally or Recklessly Causing a Bushfire