Setting Fire to Aircraft

Setting Fire to Aircraft is found in section 246B of the Crimes Act 1958. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who unlawfully and maliciously set fire to, or in any way destroyed, an aircraft.

Have you been accused of Setting Fire to Aircraft?

setting fire to aircraft
Police Interview
Before you speak with police, you should get legal advice from one of our lawyers. We can assist you developing a strategy in relation to your interview and help guide you through commonly asked questions.

If you make mistakes in the interview, you may make running a defence in Court more difficult later on. The purpose of the interview is to get admissions from you or highlight inconsistencies in your story to trip you up. Do not treat the police interview as an opportunity to explain your side of the story and hope the police will leave you alone.

Our lawyers can also attend the Police station with you if you feel more comfortable having someone on your side.

Pleading Not Guilty
We have many lawyers who can assist with a charge of Setting Fire to Aircraft. We know how to carefully read the police brief of evidence and identify key issues in the case against you. The police might have missed important information or there may not be enough evidence to support the charge.

Our firm has in-house counsel who appear at contested hearings and trials. To increase the potential for the best outcome, you should engage with a solicitor and in-house counsel as soon as possible.

Pleading Guilty
We will assess the brief of evidence to consider the police case against you. If you decide to plead guilty to a charge of Setting Fire to an Aircraft, there is a lot of preparation that we will undertake to prepare for a plea hearing.

If appropriate, we will enter negotiations with the prosecution as to the alleged summary, aiming to resolve the case on the most favourable basis for you. We gather relevant material and work with you to understand the background to what has occurred.

Which court will the case be heard in?
This is a very serious offence which is heard in the County Court.

What is the legal definition of Setting Fire to Aircraft?
Any person who unlawfully and maliciously sets fire to or in any way destroys any aircraft whether complete or incomplete shall be guilty of an indictable offence.

Examples of Setting Fire to Aircraft
  • You are on a flight and want to scare other passengers on the flight, so you light a fire in the toilets.
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 246B of Crimes Act 1958.

Elements of the offence
To prove this charge, the Prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused set fire to, or
  2. Partly or completely destroyed in any way
  3. An aircraft
Did the accused set fire to the aircraft?
Whether or not the accused set fire to the aircraft will be a matter of fact.

“Can they prove you set fire to an aircraft?”

Did the accused partly or completely destroy the aircraft in any way?
‘Destroy’ is not defined in the Act so the court will look to the common meaning of the word. According to Oxford dictionary, ‘destroy’ usually means to end the existence of something by damaging or attacking it.

However, the section specifies that it will be sufficient if the accused destroys the aircraft ‘in any way whether complete or incomplete’. Thus, if an accused simply damages the aircraft, this will likely be sufficient.

Is it an aircraft?
According to section 2A of the Crimes Act 1958, ‘aircraft’ means every type of machine or structure used or intended to be used for navigation of the air.

Notably, there is no requirement that the aircraft be in the air at the time when the accused sets fire to it or partly/completely destroys it.

Defences to this could include a factual dispute or lack of intent.

Questions in cases like this
  • Did you partly or completely destroy an aircraft?
  • Did you set fire to an aircraft?
  • Were your actions unlawful and malicious?
You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty for section 246B of the Crimes Act 1958
Any person convicted of Setting Fire to Aircraft (s246B of the Crimes Act 1958) may be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment.