Parramatta courthouse

The Law on Destroying or Damaging Property in New South Wales


A 52-year old man has been arrested for destroying or damaging property after allegedly using a claw hammer to smash several glass panels near the entry to Parramatta Local Court at around 7.15pm last night.

Video footage of the incident shows a man using what appears to be a hammer smashing several glass panels, before police arrive with their tasers drawn.

The man is seen to walk towards the officers, before he puts his hands up and kneels to the floor to surrender.

The suspect is reported to have been taken to hospital for a mental health assessment.

The reasons for his actions are unknown.

Destroying or damaging property in NSW

Section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) prescribes a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for any person who intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages property belonging to another.

Intentionally means wilfully or purposely, while recklessly means foreseeing the possibility of damage or destruction but proceeding regardless.

The courts have found that property is considered to have been damaged where:

  • There is permanent damage,
  • There is temporary functional derangement,
  • There is temporary impairment of usefulness,
  • The physical integrity of the property is altered, and
  • The property is rendered imperfect or inoperative.

Examples of conduct found by the courts to constitute damage include:

  • Placing a blanket in a toilet and flushing,
  • Letting down the tyres of a car,
  • Painting graffiti on walls or floors,
  • Breaking a raw egg on the windscreen of a car, and
  • Taking a cap from a person’s head and repeatedly stomping on it.

It has been held that temporarily blocking another from accessing property is not enough to establish the offence.

The maximum penalty increases to ten years in prison where the offence occurs ‘in company’, which means with another person or persons.

Going to court for damaging property?

If you have been charged with damaging property and are seeking the services of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers 24/7 to arrange a free first conference to receive advice about your options and the best way forward.


Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Australia's leading team of criminal and traffic defence lawyers.