Woman convicted of assault for throwing water out of her window

Woman convicted of assault for throwing water out of her window

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It sounds odd but we can assure you it is true.

Michelle Dodd of Stockport, Greater Manchester had pleaded not guilty to three counts of “assault”, but on 21 January 2015, she was convicted.

Background

As some readers may have guessed, the background to this case lies in a neighbourly dispute. Ms Dodd took objection to the noise made by her neighbour’s children, specifically the noise made whilst they were enjoying playing on their trampoline. Her neighbour, Afshan Iqbal, had previously complained about Ms Dodd, and Ms Dodd had complained about Ms Iqbal.

Dodd subsequently threw water out of her bedroom window, hitting the children and Ms Iqbal on three occasions. It appears that this was not in dispute. So why did she plead not guilty?

Well, Dodd’s case was that she was bed ridden with illness and was emptying a pan of water put out for her cat, not intending to hit anyone, and therefore was not guilty on the basis that she lacked the required intent (a specific intention or having been reckless as to the consequences of her actions).

It is likely that the proper description of the offence was battery rather than assault; the difference being for the former, it is necessary to prove the application of unlawful force, whereas for the latter, it is necessary to cause a fear of unlawful force. As the water was thrown out of the window and actually hit the children, we assume the children were unaware of the water being thrown until it hit them and so battery rather than assault would be the more appropriate description.

Sentence

The maximum sentence for common assault under s.39 of the CJA 1988 is 6 months. So where on the scale did Dodd’s offence come? Unsurprisingly, right at the very bottom. She was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £280 in costs.

Interestingly, applying the Sentencing Council’s guideline, (see p.23) as Dodd “repeatedly targeted the same victim(s)” this would be a category 2 offence as that is a factor indicating greater harm – if one was so slavishly follow the guideline. Obviously that is nonsense and would result in an absurd sentence. Correctly, the court appears to have ignored the guideline.

Dodd said: ‘It’s disgusting but there’s nothing I can do. I thought the court would laugh and sue the police for wasting everyone’s time.’

So Dodd has to behave herself for the next 12 months and stump up £280.

What a waste of the court’s time and taxpayer money….

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is all rather disconcerting. When I was 18 and living in Gloucester Road SW7, my fellow residents and I delighted in throwing water onto passing strangers from the second floor balcony. Our intention was to cause hilarity. We chose our, dare I say it, victims, carefully. Most usually persons of the opposite sex whom we wished to invite to the cinema or the local disco – or even to the Royal Albert Hall – which was but a rolling stone’s throw away!

  2. Complete waste of money. One small thing -Assault does not require actual fear of force, just the apprehension of it.

    • she was actually charged with battery and not assault. She poured water on her victim(s) knowing that they would be offended.

  3. Our police service is constantly bleating about being under resourced, low staffing levels, unable to fight crime..etc. Yet this case gets the full treatment, presumably with the full participation of the CPS.

    Hopefully a government minister has taken note for when the police’s faux outrage is peddled on the national news and politicians are accused of not listening, cutting too far blah blah. Shame on the police and courts.

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