Appendix B
Calculation of harm caused by an offence

The following example provides an illustration of the way in which the harm caused by an offence (step 3) will be calculated based on the worst class of case. The formula for the quantitative tool is as follows:

base value x level of injury = harm score

Note that the base values do not yet have a numerical value allocated. These will be confirmed following external consultation:

Offence: Arson: s 267(1) Crimes Act 1961

Current maximum penalty: 14 years’ imprisonment

Aggravating factors

Worst class of case

The offender was a former employee of a manufacturing business who had been fired by the owner for theft two weeks earlier. The offender returned to the plant at night and deliberately started a fire. The fire destroyed the plant. Four people inside were hospitalised for smoke inhalation. One suffered minor burns.

The fire also spread to a neighbouring rest-home, causing the mass evacuation of the home’s residents. Three units were destroyed and all contents lost. Seven other units suffered damage. Two elderly residents were fortunate to escape the fire that engulfed the unit. A total of 30 residents had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The offender acted out of malice. He was upset at being fired and had told the owner that he would regret firing him. The offender planned the fire in advance, securing accelerants from a number of stores in order to evade detection. He used a key still in his possession to enter a shed on the premises to secure a further accelerant. Being a former employee, the offender was also aware that it was likely that several people would be inside the factory when he started the fire.

The offender has seven convictions, three of which are for offences involving damage to property. He also has one conviction for arson, relating to a fire the offender deliberately set to his neighbour’s woodshed following a dispute.

The financial cost of the fire was significant. The loss of the factory and business was totalled at $1,600,000. The destruction of the three rest-home units, their contents, and the damage done to the seven other units totalled $420,000.

Level of harmTop

Interests affected

Interest Value Affected
physical integrity a
material support and amenity b
privacy and freedom from humiliation or offensive behaviour c
governmental interest d
collective welfare e

Harm scale

Interest Affected Base value   Harm factor (out of 10) Harm
physical integrity
  • serious threat to life
  • one victim suffered burns
  • significant number of victims suffered smoke inhalation
a 7 a(BV)
x 7(HF)
= y
material support
  • destruction of plant and stock
  • business set back, causing inconvenience, loss of profits, and loss of wages for employees
  • destruction of rest-home units and contents
  • damage to seven other rest-home units
b 10 b(BV)
x 10
= z 
TOTAL HARM   = y z