R v Fiak (Engin)  EWCA Crim 2381
Criminal damage – resisting arrest – assault on officer
Fiak had been sitting in a car, parked outside his house, when he was approached by police officers who had suspected he was in control of the vehicle having consumed excess alcohol. Fiak said that he had not been driving the vehicle but had stepped away from the house where he and his wife had not long had an argument. The police detained Fiak whilst they questioned his wife about the course of events. Fiak ignored this and a struggle broke out between him and an officer, who claimed she had been injured. Fiak was then taken to the police station where he proceeded to flood his cell by putting his blanket down the toilet and repeatedly flushed the chain
Fiak claimed that until the word ‘arrest’ was spoken, there had been no lawful arrest and restraining him was not appropriate. Further to this, Fiak claimed that there was no damage to the blanket because the water he had flushed was clean and the blanket could be dried. A key issue here is whether Fiak had caused damage in line with the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
Appeal dismissed. The police officer’s conduct was appropriate in detaining Fiak. The officer did not use the word ‘arrest’ until the investigation was concluded at which point the officer had grounds to lawfully make the arrest. With regards to the blanket used in the cell, whilst Fiak’s actions could be remedied, the blanket could not be used until dry and the cell could not be used again until the water had been cleared. On this basis, Fiak had sustained damage for the purposes of the Criminal Damage Act 1971.