Committal for Contempt of Court: Chief Constable of Lancashire -v- Mr Foxcroft

Magistrates' courtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Case number: J00PR324

In the Magistrates’ Court in Fleetwood

1 March 2024


District Judge Woosnam


Chief Constable of Lancashire


Mr Foxcroft



  1. The background has been set out in some detail by Mr Bonner and although I am going to refer to some of it, I am not going to reiterate it all for the purpose of this judgment. We are dealing with an injunction which was initially imposed on 21 April 2022 to run to 21 April 2023. That was made final on 13 September 2022. An appeal of that decision to make it final was made. It was belatedly made but was dealt with and dismissed on 4 March 2024. The Appellant /Defendant did not attend. There was an order of 20 April 2023 which extended the life of the injunction to 21 April 2024, and that is the order that we are dealing with.
  2. The order prohibits Mr Foxcroft from entering certain areas of Blackpool, from acting in an anti-social manner likely to cause alarm and distress to the public, for using abusive and foul language in a public place, and primarily associating with, communicating with, approaching in person by letter of telephone or other electronic device Hayley Brown.
  3. There have been, as Mr Bonner outlined in some detail, numerous breaches of the order, starting back in April 2022 and then, again, a number in May 2022. He spent most of the summer of 2022 on remand, was dealt with in September and released, and then there were further breaches. He was disputing those. He spent some time on bail, I think, if I recall correctly, from September 2022. There were further breaches in January 2023, for which he was sentenced in April 2023 and July 2023, following which he had custodial sentences imposed upon him, as Mr Bonner has outlined. Finally, there was a sentence for a breach in October 2023, for which he was sentenced to eight months in prison.
  4. These breaches relate to communication with Hayley Brown. Hayley Brown is the person who is specifically named in the injunction and whom the injunction seeks to protect. There is evidence provided in support of that, but Mr Foxcroft has admitted a certain amount of contact with Hayley Brown. He was telephoning a number which turned out to be her number on 29 February 2024 following his release from prison on 28 February.
  5. That there were some missed calls which were not answered. There were some text messages sent. Some of those text messages were threatening of nature. Having said that, they did seem to refer to somebody called Ste, and certainly one refers to a threat to somebody who is referred to as being Lad, and so perhaps not Hayley Brown but a man.
  6. He says that a call was returned to him at around 14.47 and that turned out to be from Hayley and he admits that he did not immediately disconnect once he realised that Hayley was on the phone, and that would be in breach of the order.
  7. There is a report from PC Birrell, who arrested him on 5 March, that following his arrest and when he was at the police station he made comments which were threatening and may well have referred to a threat to Hayley Brown. He said, “You want to wait and see what happens when I get out. My behaviour is going to massively escalate towards her,” or something along those lines, as PC Birrell reports.
  8. That is the factual background to this. I am now looking at sentencing. I remind myself, as Mr Bonner has reminded me, and indeed Mr Nelligan has, of the sentencing matrix as far as this is concerned, but the first point is what are the objectives of sentencing, following the case of Lovett v Wigan Borough Council [2022] EWCA Civ 1631. The objectives are to ensure future compliance, to deal with punishment and deal with rehabilitation.
  9. The major problem here, historically through this injunction, has been securing Mr Foxcroft’s compliance with the order and essentially that has not been successful and has resulted in, in effect, him having to be sent to prison to make sure that he cannot breach the injunction.
    Regrettably, on release he is now in breach again, almost immediately after the release.
    However, the injunction does come to the end, as it stands at the present stage, in April of this year, ie next month. Furthermore, Mr Nelligan tells me that Mr Foxcroft says that he accepts that he will move on, that Hayley Brown has moved on, and that in that respect it is to be hoped that he will not pursue any further contact with her, and that he will, in future, be compliant.
  10. I then seek to look to the matrix itself. Both advocates have addressed me with regard to that. Mr Bonner points to culpability and says that the starting point for that should be category A, in that he has made attempts to contact Hayley Brown, those are positive attempts on his part to act in breach, and secondly even when he says he was contacted, he did not disconnect as soon as he realised that he was speaking to Hayley Brown.
  11. There is some evidence that there were some threatening comments in the attempts at contact, albeit that those were not directed to Hayley Brown, but they were directed to someone and, of course, I remind myself that the injunction does extend to cover not using abusive and foul language or acting in an anti-social manner likely to cause alarm and distress to the public. So, it would be caught by that as well.
  12. As far as that is concerned, it seems to me this, taking into the history, must fall into culpability of category A. As far as the harm categories are concerned, I think that there is an argument that it would fall into category 1, as put forward by Mr Bonner, but one of the points he relies on there has been persistent breach. That is more of an aggravating factor when considering what to do once the category has been determined and it cannot count twice, because he has been sentenced for those previous events. The fact that it is persistent, therefore, does not, in my view, mean that it would be in category 1.
  13. I have to look in those circumstances at what harm is caused by this. I have no doubt that Hayley Brown may have felt a significant amount of distress knowing that Mr Foxcroft was trying to contact her. Having said that, she was not sufficiently distressed, on the admitted facts, that she did not come on the phone to speak to him or indeed phone him and, therefore, I am of the view the starting point there is category 2 and not category 1.
  14. That would mean that it is category A2, which is a starting point of three months. The range to be considered would be adjourning sentence to six months. I do not think this is a situation considering an adjournment of considering the sentence, but it could be up to a six month sentence.
  15. I do then look at the persistent offending in the past, which is a factor that I would need to take into account as an aggravation. The aggravating factors are, that it comes immediately after release; there are repeated previous breaches, nine in total; that is against Hayley Brown, who is the intended person to be protected; and that there are threats of violence, which were apparently, according to PC Birrell’s evidence, against Hayley Brown. Those are the aggravating factors.
  16. As against that, I do take into account that Mr Foxcroft has made an early admission in this matter and he has acknowledged the position as against him and he must be given credit as far as that is concerned. I take into account also what he has said through Mr Nelligan to the court today, that he accepts that both parties have moved on, and if he acknowledges that, then the proceedings may finally see a way forward to concluding. So, I take those two points into account. I can see no reason, therefore, certainly extending beyond a period of six months as the starting point for sentence in this case.
  17. Giving him credit, then, for the early plea and admission, that that should be reduced by a third down to four months. I will then categorise that into terms of days rather than months, as 30 day months, to make it a sentence of 120 days. I have to also take into account, then, time on remand. By my calculations, albeit that it was the 5th that he was arrested on, I think he will have actually spent, including today, 15 days on remand. So, I think it should be lessened by 30 days. So, the overall sentence would then come down. It will 120 days, less 30 days, making a total of 90 days.