Skip to related content
Case No: H00MCT338
In Canterbury County Court
29 October 2021
Deputy District Judge Chittenden
Dover District Council
Committal for Contempt of Court
- Ms Kaynar on 6th July 2021 Deputy District Judge Ashley made an Injunction Order (the “order”) under ss 1&2 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.
- On the 1st October 2021 you were arrested for alleged breaches of the Order and appeared before Her Honour Judge Brown, sitting in the County Court at Canterbury in relation to committal proceedings for contempt.
- Having considered the totality of the evidence, I have found it proved to the high criminal standard, beyond reasonable doubt, that you breached the injunction order imposed against you on the 6thJuly 2021 on at least 8 occasions between 20th August and 22nd September 2021 as set out below:
- On 20th August 2021 at 17:52, you were heard screaming (indoors) at a male presumed to be your partner, Stephen Coombes. The screaming could be clearly heard by neighbours. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a and 1c of the Order.
- On 22nd August at 20:16, you and your partner had a heated argument. There was repeated door slamming and shouting which disturbed the neighbours. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a and 1c of the Order.
- On 23rd August at 15:40, you and your and partner were arguing inside the property. Sounds of furniture being dragged around could be clearly heard by neighbours. There was shouting. This was clearly audible to neighbours who called the police. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a and 1c of the Order.
- On 24th August at 00:52, neighbours were woken up by shouting, banging, scraping and crashing sounds which came from your property. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a and 1c of the Order.
- On 6th September at 23:07, you and your partner were outside your property shouting and arguing with a neighbour, Mr. Cowell. Other neighbours called the police. Mr Cowell sustained significant physical injury during this incident. You shouted and swore at both your partner and at Mr Cowell and continued to shout at Mr Cowell even after he was injured. This was in breach of paragraphs 1b and 1c of the Order.
- On 13th September at 20:32, you and your partner were outside your property shouting and arguing. You and your partner then went into your property where the argument continued. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a, 1b and 1c of the Order.
- On 19th September at 16:15 you and your partner had an argument inside your property. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a and 1c of the Order.
- On 22nd September at 20:00 You and your children returned home, shouting, screaming, singing loudly and making banging sounds. The noise disturbance continued for several hours, until 22:30. This was in breach of paragraphs 1a, 1b and 1c of the Order.
- It now falls to me to deal with sentence for the breaches I have found proved.
- There are three objectives to be considered;
- the first is punishment for breach of an order of the court;
- the second is to secure future compliance with the court’s orders if possible;
- the third is rehabilitation, which is a natural companion to the second
- The sentencing options available to the court are much more limited than those for a criminal court sentencing for breach. They amount to imprisonment, either immediate custody for a maximum of 2 years, suspended committal, fine or taking no action on the breach.
- I say to you at the outset, so that you know straight away, I am not sending you to prison today. The breaches alleged are persistent breaches of an order of the court which must be marked with some penalty; taking no action on the breach is not a viable option.
- I note from what I have heard about your financial circumstances that a fine is also not a viable option. And you are likely to be facing further costs as a result of this hearing. In any event, in my view, a fine is not appropriate given my findings and the nature of the offences.
- I have in mind the Sentencing Council guideline for breach offences. I note that they are not entirely apposite because they deal with offences for which the maximum penalty is 5 years whereas the maximum available to this court is 2 years.
- I take the view that the incident on 6thSeptember in which Mr Cowell was significantly injured, and you shouted abuse at him after he had been significantly injured, is by far the most serious of the breaches alleged.
- In terms of culpability, deliberate and persistent breach is at category A, but there are a number of factors I have heard about which led me to determine category B is the most appropriate. In terms of harm caused you fall squarely within category 2. I take the view that for persistent breaches over a month which caused your neighbours alarm and distress and culminated in a serious incident of public disorder, which you may have not instigated you but which you did then join in with, the custody threshold is passed. Ordinary people’s lives can be blighted by antisocial behaviour and persistent breaches of court orders must be deterred.
- The sentencing guidelines puts the starting point for offences within category 2B at 12 weeks custody. It is not an exact fit and I take the view that 2 weeks custody appropriately reflects the persistence of the breaches and the single significant incident. I am suspending that sentence until the injunction order comes to an end on 5thJuly 2022; in the hope that this marks the deterrent and rehabilitative purpose of sentence.
- The sentences are to run concurrently, that means to all intents and purposes, that you are at risk of single 2-week sentence if you breach the terms of the injunction order again within the currency of the suspension. I note that that less than half the breaches alleged against you were proved. I hope, given your conduct after the order was first imposed, that this is the last time you come to court in relation to this injunction.