Committal for Contempt of Court: Bristol City Council -v- Joseph Walker

Magistrates' courtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Ref. G01BS775

In the Magistrates’ Court at Bristol


District Judge Gibson


Bristol City Council


Joseph Walker



1. The case before me today concerns a breach by Mr Joseph Walker of an injunction made by the court on 27th November 2023 by District Judge Wales, which included terms that Mr Walker must not cause harassment, alarm or distress, nuisance or annoyance to any individuals lawfully in the locality of Newquay Road, Knowle, Bristol, BS4, or threaten or assault any person lawful in the locality of Newquay Road, Knowle, Bristol, BS4. There is a third provision but that was not in force at the date that the court is concerned with.

2. There is no schedule of breaches before me today, but Mr Linehan, who is representing Mr Walker, has set out his understanding and indeed Mr Walker’s understanding of the alleged breaches as being in respect of comments made, shouting and verbal abuse, including references made to Ms Amanda Davies on 24th and 25th December 2023, as set out in the witness statement of Ms Davies, dated 26th December 2023, which the court has read and considered and, in addition to that, Mr Walker’s conduct towards police officers during the course of his arrest on 25th December 2023, which included verbal abuse, aggressive behaviour and kicking of PC Love as described in the witness statements of PC Love and PC Sims, dated 26th December 2023.

3. As there is no schedule of allegations, it is difficult for me to accurately identify quite how many breaches might be alleged in respect of the injunction. The events have been treated, in effect, today as a single breach and I do not understand there to be any dispute between the parties that it can be treated as a single breach of the injunction. Consequently, today in the course of sentencing, I am going to treat those actions as a single breach of the injunction.

4. Mr Walker has admitted the breach of the injunction in court today and I am mindful that he has taken the first opportunity to do so. Although this is the third hearing in relation to this matter, it is the first at which Mr Walker has had the benefit of legal representation.

5. My role today is to sentence Mr Walker in respect of this breach. In doing so, I have considered the guidance in the Court of Appeal’s decision in Lovett v Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council and, in addition to that, the sentencing guidance set out by the Civil Justice Council. I am reminded that the objective of sentencing in the case of a civil contempt of an injunction is primarily to ensure future compliance with the Court’s order. In addition to that, the purposes of sentencing are punishment and rehabilitation.

6. In considering the sentencing guidance, it has been put to me in submissions by Mr Denford, solicitor for the Claimant, that this is a category B1 breach and that has not been disputed strongly by Mr Linehan.

7. I agree with Mr Denford’s submissions. I am satisfied, given the fact that this was a breach of the injunction during which Mr Walker’s comments were particularly directed towards Ms Amanda Davies, and given Mr Walker’s actions towards the police officers, that there was a deliberate breach in respect of Ms Davies and I am also satisfied as to the severity of the breach in respect of the police officers. Considering those matters in the round, I am satisfied that this is a category B1 breach of the order, for which the starting point is stated in the table provided by the Civil Justice Council as three months.

8. A number of mitigating factors have been put forward by Mr Linehan, including the youth of Mr Walker, his level of emotional maturity and the fact that Mr Walker suffers from certain learning difficulties, including dyslexia and has anger management issues. I have also been reminded that these breaches occurred within the context of what can sometimes be raised tensions within the family home over the Christmas period.

9. However, the fact that these events happened over the Christmas period might also be considered aggravating factors, particularly in relation to Ms Davies’ peaceful enjoyment of her home. Mr Denford has also raised the fact of the proximity between the date of the injunction and the breaches by Mr Walker and the fact that this is not the first breach of the injunction

10. I am mindful, as I say, also of the early admission given by Mr Walker and a deduction has to be made in respect of that.

11. Taking those matters in the round, firstly applying the one third deduction in respect of Mr Walker’s early admission, and also considering the mitigating and aggravating factors, I am satisfied that an appropriate sentence in relation to this matter is 50 days. I am mindful that Mr Walker has spent what I calculate to be ten days on remand in custody, in advance of the hearing today. So in terms of sentence, my calculation is 50 days’ imprisonment, less 20 days spent on remand, which brings me to a total sentence of 30 days. Mr Walker has spent ten days in custody over the Christmas and New Year period and I am satisfied that, having spent that time in custody and given the terms of the injunction that now prevent Mr Walker returning to the property, it is appropriate for me suspend the remainder of the sentence on terms that the Defendant complies with the order of District Judge Wales.

12. So to summarise, Mr Walker, I am sentencing you to 30 days’ imprisonment suspended on the condition that you comply with the terms of the injunction dated 27th November 2023, as amended by District Judge Wales on 14th December 2023, and that is to be suspended for the duration of the remaining term of the injunction, that is until 23.59 on 26th November 2025.