The Laws of England, Compiled and translated into the Māori language.
8. Arson.—Burning Houses, &c
8. Arson.—Burning Houses, &c.
The act must be malicious and intentional to make it Arson. If done by mischance or thoughtlessly it will not be a Felony. The Law regards the intention of a person in any act.
If a house be accidentally set fire to by any person and burnt, the remedy must be sought by an action at Law for a Civil Injury. Thus, suppose a person should go out to shoot birds for sport and, by accident, fire from his gun should ignite the thatch of a house, and the house be burut; this would not be Felony.
But if a person, intending to commit a Felony, accidentally set fire to the house of another, and the house be burnt; this would be Arson. Thus, suppose a person were to go with the intention of burning the house of one man and should undesignedly set fire to the house of another; this would be Arson. Or thus, if a man should intentionally set fire to his own house, and the house of another is burnt in consequence, such house being either near to his, or so situated that if the one were burnt the other could not escape; this would be Arson.
The rule laid down by Moses for such cases was very similar, as it directed that the remedy should be by Civil process. "If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindleth the fire shall surely make restitution." Exodus 22. 6.