Committal for Contempt of Court: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council -v- Power

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Case Number: J01BH197

In the County Court at Bournemouth

6 December 2023


District Judge Ashby


Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council





1. Mr Power, I have to sentence you for admitted breaches of the anti-social behaviour injunction in force against you. I have taken into account that there are two offences that were committed on 4th September 2023 which involved acting in a drunk and disorderly manner that was abusive towards staff members at the Asda shop, including shouting and swearing, and your behaviour would have caused alarm and distress and would have been construed as aggressive. I have also taken into account the fact that when the police arrived on the same day you shouted and swore at them too.

2. I have taken account of the further breaches that have been committed, namely that on 25th and 26th September 2023 you were drinking alcohol in breach of the injunction, and more notably on 19th October 2023 you were intoxicated and disorderly on a bus in Poole and were shouting and swearing, and this time not at police officers (who are perhaps more used to dealing with that type of behaviour) but at members of the public. That you were aggressive towards passengers on the bus, causing them alarm and distress and that you were also waiting outside a Costcutter in breach of the injunction and did not leave when you were asked to. Again on 10th November 2023 that you were drunk and disorderly and aggressive with a police officer over drink at that point in time. I have taken account of all of those matters.

3. I have also taken account of the fact that there are indeed two different Mr Powers: that when you are sober you engage and when you are drunk you commit offences like these. You have a significant history, on any measure, of breaching this injunction and the previous one, for which I know you have already been sentenced. Originally you were sentenced to a suspended sentence and then to 24 weeks in custody in relation breaching the previous injunction, which I place more limited weight on. But in terms of this injunction there have been a number of sentences for multiple breaches resulting in sentences of three and four months. The breaches that you committed in September were committed only three days after having been released from the previous sentence. When brought before the court on that occasion I adjourned the sentence on those breaches so that you could try and get some help, recognising that alcohol is a major part of your offending pattern. But still within a short space of time you are back in front of me with a number of further breaches, including the one where you were shouting and swearing at members of the public, obviously the incident on 19th October, but also the one when you were shouting and swearing at members of staff in the Asda car-park – in my mind these are the more serious ones. They involved you intimidating either members of the public just trying to go about their everyday business, or staff members who were trying to do a difficult job in circumstances that you made more difficult.

4. I am going to adopt the approach suggested by both representatives and look at the breaches in the round so that you are not sentenced too much for the various breaches, but also taking account of the number of them and the nature of them. I agree with the submissions that have been made by both the local authority and Mr Capildeo that this is a case of persistent, serious breaches and so it falls within category A on the guidelines. I cannot think of a case – and we deal with a lot of cases of this nature – where the breaches have been as persistent as this. There are others that are similar, but yours is on the more serious end when considering the continuing nature of the breaches.

5. I agree that in terms of harm it is not at the very serious harm end, but nor is it little harm. It does fall under category 2, particularly taking account of those two incidents I have just referred to. I think you have to reflect on the fact, as I have in sentencing, on how distressing that would have been for the people in that situation. So I agree that on the guidelines given by the Court of Appeal in the case of Lovett, the starting point is three months and the range is for an adjourned consideration to six months before I take account of any guilty plea, as it were.

6. I agree that this is a case that is so serious that only a custodial penalty will do. I bear in mind that I must impose the shortest period of imprisonment which properly reflects the seriousness of the contempt of court. I agree that this is not a case for a suspended sentence or an adjourned sentence. Both of those have been imposed before without success.

7. A particular feature of this case is that the offences in September were undertaken only a few days after release from prison. I do appreciate that you have problems with alcohol. I do appreciate that if you could resolve that your offending may well be resolved as well. That is why I gave you the chance last time to sort it out without coming back again.

8. In those circumstances, taking into account all of those factors and everything Mr Capildeo has said on your behalf, I am afraid it does appear to me that this is a case that is at the upper end of the range of category A2. When taking account of the persistent nature of the breaches, the fact that they involve members of the public and police officers who are serving the public, members of the public on the bus and when considering the repeated sentences, I consider that this is at the upper end of the range. And I do consider that the sentence – before discount for guilty plea or credit for time served which I will come to in a moment – should be one of a six month period of imprisonment (or in days 182 days). That is the shortest period which I can realistically impose on you in these circumstances.

9. You pleaded and admitted the offences against you at the earliest opportunity on all of the occasions and so you will receive a one third discount for that to take account of your early admissions.

10. That reduces the sentence to 120 days. You will receive credit for the 27 days that you have already served. The 27 days will be doubled in the usual way, so you will receive 54 days’ credit, leaving you 66 days left to serve, if my maths is correct. I am sure counsel will correct me if it is not. So you will be sentenced to 120 days less 54 days’ credit for time served, a total of 66 days.

11. I will order a transcript of my decision at public expense to be prepared on an expedited basis, and it will be posted to the website of the Judiciary of England and Wales, given that any decision to commit to prison in light of contempt should be transcribed and uploaded to the public website.

12. I inform you, as Mr Capildeao will no doubt know, that there is an automatic right of appeal without permission.