despair wrote:What other elements ?????????????
The hedge has been cut back to the trunk which is 1 to 3inches back from the OPs own fence which remains in situ
to cut the hedge back they must have leant over the OPs fence
To make out a conviction for Criminal Damage it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that actual damage was caused (when we are discussing an inch or two of nondescript hedging, that's far from simple - you have surely heard the phrase de minimis non curat lex
). They may say that they only cut to the boundary line but the branches lifted due to the weight of foliage being removed, as A-Lad points out above. Or they cut on a wet day, or early in the morning. It must also
be proven that any damage was caused intentionally or recklessly, and
without lawful excuse.
In respect of lawful excuse, the contractors may raise a number of defences which would need to be refuted beyond reasonable doubt. They may say that they believed that the trimming was being done on proper authority. They may say that they believed the owner of the hedge had consented, or would have consented to the trimming if he had been present. They may say that they believed it was necessary to cut back to that line in order to protect the property rights of their employer. The important point in all of these is that the question is only their belief at the time
In practical terms, this is an infeasible mountain to climb when the damage relates to allegedly over-zealous trimming of a hedge so that a fence could be erected. What possible motive would a workman have to act dishonestly or maliciously in that situation? The foreman said "cut the hedge back and put the fence up", so they carried out his directions in good faith.