Case Number: J00PR324
In the Blackpool Magistrates and Civil Court
28 July 2023
District Judge Woosnam
Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary
MS LORENZA for the Claimant
The Defendant appeared as a litigant in person
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DISTRICT JUDGE WOOSNAM:
- I have to deal with a contempt application in relation to Derek Foxcroft. The allegation is that on 27th July 2023 he was seen by Police Constable Robinson in Anderson Street, Blackpool, that he was banned from being in Anderson Street, Blackpool by virtue of an order which was made on 19th April 2022 which prevents him to enter into certain areas of Blackpool, including Anderson Street. That order was to last until 21st April 2023. By an order of the court made on 20th April 2023 it was varied to remain in force until 12 midnight on 21st April 2024 and Mr Foxcroft was in court when that variation of the order was being made and he has in his submissions to the court today admitted that he was there and he was aware that the order was still in force.
- The second part of the allegation of breach is that he told the police officers that he had been with Hayley Brown and he had been with her since the previous day. In fact, he admits that he had been with her, and he said in his submissions to the court that he had been with her at his property initially, she had attended there and, unfortunately, the electric in his property went so that they had gone back to her property in Anderson Street and it was from there that he was coming out when he was seen by Officer Robinson.
- He has admitted to the officers, and indeed admitted to the court today, that he was in breach of the order and he was aware of his breach of the order.
- It is not the first time that he has been back before this court for breaches of the order of April 2022. He has been before the court before and there have been allegations of eight breaches brought before the court dating back to 7th May 2022, 21st May 2022, 6th and 20th September, 3rd and 18th January 2023 and indeed again the allegation of being in the company of Ms Brown on 19th April 2023. He has been dealt with and he has made certain admissions in relation to those alleged breaches; he has admitted breaches in the past. He has served time in prison, initially waiting to be dealt with for the breaches in May 2022, then he has spent time in prison following the breaches for which he was dealt with in January of this year, and again for the breach in April of this year.
- He was released from prison apparently on 5th July of this year and this breach is 21 days after that. He breached in September 2022 shortly after release from prison in the summer.
- His stance is that he does not believe the order should have been made in the first place, but he acknowledges that he is in breach of the order. He takes the view that he wants to be and Hayley Brown wants to be with him and that the court has no right to interfere with that relationship. I am afraid that ignores the fact that there is a court order, and it is the court order that binds him. If he wants to set aside the court order he should apply to do so. He has not done so.
DEREK FOXCROFT: I have.
DISTRICT JUDGE WOOSMAN: The court order is there and in place, and until it has been varied and altered it remains in force. Hence, his approach to this, that he will in effect simply ignore it, indicates that he is not prepared to be bound by the order of the court and his behaviour is entirely consistent with that.
- I am reminded of the authority of Lovett v Wigan and the objectives of contempt proceedings to get the defendant to abide by the order. Then there are punishment and rehabilitation. In this case the primary objective is to get him to abide by the order. He does not seem to understand that he needs to do that and he takes the view, as I have said, that the order should not be made and it should therefore not affect him. That is, as I have said, the wrong approach for him to take.
- I therefore am considering today how I might get him to abide by the order. It seems that the prison sentences which he has had imposed upon him to date do not do that. I have to look at the starting point for this and the custody threshold. There have been persistent breaches, as I have referred to, and this puts this in a category of high culpability. There is a history, as I have outlined, of him breaching. It appears that the sentences have little or no deterrent effect upon him; he has maintained his stance, as I have said. He continues to spend time with Hayley Brown. He does say that it is her that wants contact with him, but he knows the order says that he must not have that contact with her, and that has been explained to him on more than one occasion in this court, but he still clearly chooses to ignore that.
- The order itself was made with a view to protecting Hayley Brown and his disobedience of the order has meant that he has spent time with Hayley Brown on more than one occasion for periods of time. His continued repeated disobedience of the order, he has admitted it and he has admitted it again this time. There is little, indeed, in my view no mitigating circumstances to his behaviour. His behaviour goes to harm to the person that the order is intended to protect and I agree with the submissions that this is a Category 1 harm. The starting point, therefore, is to consider six months’ imprisonment with a band of eight weeks to 18 months. He was sentenced last time to five months having taken account of his early guilty plea in that matter. He has entered a plea of admission at this stage at the first opportunity and I must take that into account. However, it is submitted that he has a lack of remorse. There is no apology in this, he simply reiterates that he feels that the order should not be in existence and that, as he is appealing some of these proceedings’ previous orders, then he does not have to abide by this order. Well I am afraid that is wrong.
- The situation is that it is a flagrant breach again of the order, a flagrant failure to understand that he has to abide by it and it must be that the starting point now is greater than six months. He should be sentenced to prison for a longer period than the last period of time, he should be sentenced to prison for nine months and then given credit for his early guilty plea, and I will give him credit today of three months, a third off his sentence for that, which would give him a six month sentence today: imprisonment for six months.