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Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at Barrow-in-Furness: Fawcett

Case No: F00BW162

In the County Court at Barrow-in-Furness

14 January 2020

 

Before:

District Judge Stone

Between:

Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary

-v-

Darren Fawcett

 


JUDGMENT

DJ STONE:

  1. Mr Fawcett, you were aware of an injunction when it was made by Deputy District Judge Bell. You were in custody for a period of time after or when that injunction was made and subsequently and upon your release, by your own admission, you went to premises when you knew that you were prevented from doing so by an injunction and when you knew you should not. Even though you indicated went to deal with practical matters, you should not have gone to the property at all, you should have made any arrangements by other means. You did not. You were arrested. You were brought before me on 10 January, that is only last Friday.
  2. Given the time that you were released and the clear breach of the injunction on that occasion, I imposed a period of custody of six weeks at that time. I took into account the background circumstances and the issues in the injunction. I took into account that the issues in relation to the injunction proceedings remain disputed are listed for final hearing but that does not alter the fact that an order was made that you were aware of and very soon after your release from custody, you immediately breached it.
  3. However, in circumstances where there were issues raised about you wishing to obtain belongings and clothing when you first attended and given that you gave an assurance to the court, both through your solicitor, Mr Graham, and to me personally that you would not do the same again. I stressed to you at that time that you should not attend at the property for any purpose including picking up clothes, you should make alternative arrangements and you fully understood that, when you were before me on Friday 10 January. Indeed you told me you understood and would not break the injunction again for any reason.
  4. On that previous occasion I imposed a period of custody for the breach but I suspend this sentence for the period of the injunction, stressing to you the importance of not further breaching the order. Despite this, on Monday of this week, notwithstanding clear warnings, notwithstanding the imposition of the sentence by me on Friday, you were found in the premises again during the morning of 13 January only 3 days after I imposed the previous sentence.
  5. Effectively, when you have not been in custody, you have breached the order that was made on two occasions in three days and notwithstanding the warnings that were given to you clearly and straightforwardly by me on Friday of last week.
  6. On this occasion I take into account that the explanation for your further attendance was not different in substance from the explanation that was given on Friday of last week. Despite warnings that were provided to you by me, you chose to ignore those in a clear and flagrant breach of the court order.
  7. That gives the impression that you do not respect court orders and will continue to breach them. It is also the case that – and I accept of course that you were not able to see the images of yourself before speaking to Mr Graham – but the initial information provided to the court on your behalf was that you did not accept that you were found hiding under a mattress as stated in the Police Officer’s statement.
  8. When the Police Officer’s body camera footage was viewed, again it becomes clear that it was indeed the case and you were found hiding, and having viewed that footage you now accept that you were, despite previously stating that you were not. You would have known that. You were given an opportunity to speak to Mr Graham and you were prepared to tell him and for him to tell the Court that you were not hiding and fully co-operated with the police. However, you were found under a mattress and were effectively hiding, in knowledge of the injunction, seeking to avoid a situation and then tried to suggest that you had not been hiding. This adds to the seriousness of the breach, particularly given the warnings that were given to you only last week.
  9. I do take into account that you have admitted to the breaches, albeit with those issues that have arisen on both occasions. I do take into account that although the background circumstances concern matters that are not alleged to have arisen at the times you were arrested for being in breach pf the injunction, that there was no evidence on either of the occasions that you were arrested of on those occasions, any other adverse steps or actions on your part, and there is no evidence that any distress, or alarm, or harassment caused to others on these particular occasions. That still does not alter the fact that you were in a place that you were prevented by court order from attending and despite clear warnings made to you on a number of occasions and with clear disregard for the orders of the Court.
  10. It is clearly appropriate and necessary to activate the sentence that I imposed on Friday. You were given clear warnings. A sentence was imposed and within three days you breached that order and the condition of the suspension and therefore, for the breach that you appeared before me on Friday 10 January, I activate the suspended sentence and you will be committed to custody for a period of six weeks.
  11. For the breach in respect of which that you appear before me today, in circumstances that I have set out, taking into account all the matters and taking into account that you were in custody overnight yesterday, taking into account your admission but reflecting the fact that you have shown, and I do use the phrase persistently, on two occasions within days of an injunction being granted, a complete disregard for court orders, that is significant and it is serious. That being the case for this particular breach, I am going to impose a penalty of 12 weeks in custody.
  12. I have considered whether or not that should be consecutive or concurrent. Given the circumstances of the breaches themselves and the lack of harassment and in these circumstances, I think it would impose a penalty that would be too long to make them consecutively for the breaches that you have appeared in front of me for, and therefore they will run concurrently and you will serve a total sentence of imprisonment of 12 weeks.
  13. If, of course, upon your release from custody, which will of course mean that you will serve half of that time before you are entitled for release, if upon release you further breach your injunction, of course any Judge, whether it is me or anyone else, would be made aware of the two breaches that have been imposed already.
  14. You should use the time wisely to make arrangements, discuss with people, seek assistance in relation to your position upon release, and you should not breach the further terms of the order.
  15. You should also consider seeking legal advice in relation to the conduct of the proceedings and I will hear from Miss Winter as to whether there needs to be any alteration to the terms of the order that was made by way of directions or statements, given the sentence which was imposed and the timescales, because it will be necessary for you to consider being able to get legal advice and to provide statements in response to the main proceedings, the injunction proceedings, and I have not considered that yet when imposing the sentence.
  16. At this stage, I am going to ask you to sit down whilst there are any ancillary matters that I deal with in that regard. I will not need to hear from you further. Once we have dealt with those ancillary matters, I will complete the paperwork and you will be committed to prison in Preston for a period of 12 weeks. Thank you; please be seated.

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