Committal for Contempt of Court: Leeds City Council -v- Jarrett

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Case Number: H00LS132

In the County Court at Leeds

2 June 2023


His Honour Judge Gosnell


Leeds City Council




MR TONGE appeared on behalf of the Claimant

MR MORROW appeared on behalf of the Defendant


  1. John Jarrett, you appear before me today in order to plead guilty essentially to 16 breaches of an injunction which was granted initially I think in March 2021, but it was renewed then by District Judge Geddes on 31 January 2022, and as you know, the injunction prevents you doing certain things. The two most important things are probably being in a particular part of Leeds City Centre, which is centred around the Briggate, the shopping area, and also attending the two hospitals in Leeds without a reasonable excuse to be there.
  2. You have accepted that you have breached the injunction on 16 occasions. The way that you have got here today has been a rather tortuous journey. I should record you have appeared in front of me many times over the last two years, but looking at the most recent history, you were sentenced by me on 6 October 2022 to 42 days imprisonment, but shortly after that you found yourself committing further breaches.
  3. There was an initial hearing on 24 November 2022, which was then adjourned to 28 November, and then on 22 November you appeared for sentence. At that point in time, you were doing well with your alcohol treatment. You had got some help from Forward Leeds. You had been tested on occasions and found to be virtually free from alcohol. You had got accommodation, and it looked as if you were at last addressing your alcohol addiction and making some real progress, and because of that I agreed to defer sentence until 2 May 2023.
  4. There were one or two blips, for example, 20 January 2023 when you were arrested again and on 2 February 2023, but it would appear at that point that these were infrequent breaches, and we were still optimistic that things would improve. Unfortunately, by March, however, there have been significantly more appearances and then I think you were due to appear in front of me on 2 May 2023 and we adjourned that hearing because of an appearance you had before the Magistrates. Unfortunately, you were arrested several times in May, most brought  recently in front of me on 30 May. I then remanded you in custody, making it clear to you that you would be better off starting your sentence and that is where we are today.
  5. You have accepted all 16 breaches, and I give you credit for that because it shows two things, first, I think that you are sorry, and secondly that you have got some insight now. You understand that there is no point in arguing that you went to the hospital for a good reason, when even if you did you then ended up being difficult, causing trouble for the security guards, getting the police involved. The police then arrest you. They bring you up in front of me. I spend time with you. Mr Morrow and Mr Tonge have to take time out of the busy day, etc., so none of this is very helpful behaviour.  I think you recognise that now.
  6. Of the 16 breaches, some of them I accept are you being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is still a breach of the injunction, and it is serious, but I accept that it is not as serious as some of the other breaches. However, there are some of them where, for example, on 1st  February 2023 where you attended St James’ Hospital, you were asked to leave and when you were declined treatment, you were abusive to the security guards, lay on the floor and demanded that the police attended. That is the sort of behaviour that causes considerable assets to be used which do not need to be used. Obviously, the people working at the hospital do not want to be calling on the security guards to solve a problem. They want to be getting on with treating patients.
  7. Another incident on 22nd May happened again when you were abusive and threatening towards staff and other patients at Leeds General Infirmary and again, on 23rd May, when you were asked to leave St James’ Hospital and refused to leave. Therefore, you will know that I treat those seriously because I have been telling you for two years to stay away from the hospital unless you have a genuine problem because the people at the hospital should be treating people with serious diseases and disability.
  8. Therefore, of those 16 breaches, I am not going to go into all in detail, but I will highlight those that have involved swearing at police officers, on one occasion spitting in a police car, threatening to do staff in at the Pure Gym, being abusive to security staff, on one occasion a homophobic comment directed to another bus passenger and threats to kill others in the Coral betting shop. Now, if I actually thought you meant to kill someone or you were serious about your threats to kill that would place this in a different light, but I am going to take it as the rantings of a drunken man, which I believe is what it was. Therefore, that summarises the breaches that you are going to be punished for today and the procedural history.
  9. The nature of the penalty for contempt of Court involves certain objectives and the first is punishment for breach of the order. The second is to try to secure future compliance with the Court orders if possible, and the third is rehabilitation if that is possible, and I bear all those aspects in mind. I also bear in mind that a custodial penalty must not be imposed unless the breach or breaches is so serious that only a custodial penalty can be justified.
  10. In accordance with the recent Court of Appeal decision of Lovett v Wigan Borough Council, a structured approach is required utilising the matrix which has been set out by the Civil Justice Council. In doing this I am assessing two aspects, firstly, culpability, which is basically a legal word for how badly behaved you were, and the next is harm, which is to what extent other people were affected. Obviously, each of the cases are slightly different and I accept that the cases where you are merely found sat on a bench in Briggate, those would be Category C culpability and Category 3 harm.
  11. However, it is more appropriate for me to look at the more serious issues, for example, the three issues where you were causing trouble at the hospital, where the harm is not the most significant harm, but it certainly causes significant difficulties for other people, and for example, in the betting shop where you were threatening to kill people, it is possible that people were distressed by that, but I do not have admissible evidence of severe distress by anyone. Therefore, as far as those are concerned, I am prepared to accept that the culpability in each case is mainly B with some C, and the amount of harm is mainly Category 2 with some Category 3.
  12. Therefore, the starting point for a case which is Category 2 and harm B would be one month custody with the range being from adjourned consideration to three months. Now, if I look at those cases where you caused trouble at the hospital, you struggled with the security guards, called in the police, you were abusive to the staff and also the one in the betting shop where you threaten to kill, although I accept you did not mean it, that would take us right at the top of the bracket in my view of three months for that breach alone.
  13. I have got to also take into account the other 15 breaches. Now, it would not be right for me to say, well, each of them is three months and then multiply that by 16 because that will get us to four years, which would be disproportionate and in fact illegal. What I have got to do is look at the history of disobedience in totality and assess what is a fair penalty for the totality of these breaches, which is 16 breaches, some which are of medium seriousness with medium harm and some of which are less serious.
  14. I take into account that this will be the fifth time that I have sentenced you to a term of imprisonment. There have been four previous occasions, in August 2021, May 2022, August 2022 and October 2022. The fact that you breached the injunction, I would think I am guessing on about 60 occasions since it started, is obviously a particularly serious aggravating factor because this is not a case where your solicitor can look me in the eye and say, well, this is this first breach. In fact, the opposite is the case. Mr Morrow is always realistic and does not try to put forward any points on your behalf which is not true and realistic. Therefore, one of the major difficulties here of the exercise I have to take into account is the fact that you have breached the injunction so many times.
  15. I have dealt with all the aggravating factors. I am now going to deal with the mitigating factors. The most significant mitigating factor is the fact you have come to Court today and said, well, I may be not remember all of these occasions and I might be guilty of some and I might not be guilty of others, but I am going to admit all of them because I want to show the Court that I am sorry and I want to have a straight start when I finish my sentence and that gives you considerable credit with this Court.
  16. I take into account you have got quite serious health issues, and the fact that your health issues are caused by your abuse of alcohol does not mean that you do not deserve sympathy for them. You do deserve sympathy. Those issues are serious, and I think you have been told by doctors, so you do not need to take it from me, but if you carry on drinking like you are, you may not be back before me very often in the future because you may be somewhere else.
  17. I accept that your behaviour is caused by the alcohol and that you are addicted to alcohol and in a sense you feel you are not able to stop. You will be aware, however, though that you are still responsible for what you do when you are in drink. I am afraid you are one of these people who should not drink at all, firstly, because it is damaging your health, but also because you become a completely different person in drink. I have seen you many times in my Court. You have been unfailingly polite, often charming and often amusing. You know that I have seen CCTV footage of how you behave when you are in drink and that is a very different character indeed.
  18. I know that you have had difficulty with accommodation. I was very pleased to hear at the turn of the year when they had found you some accommodation and I think that helped you to challenge your drink problems and improve with your control of it. I accept that now we have problems again and you are sleeping with relatives in their home.
  19. I also accept that you have got challenges with the Criminal Courts. A community order was imposed on 2nd May, and you have three forthcoming cases. I have been careful to examine each of those cases to make sure you are not being sentenced twice for the same behaviour, and I am satisfied that you are not.
  20. I have to decide next whether to suspend any sentence I decide to impose. The factors that might persuade me to suspend the committal order would be that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and addressing the underlying causes of your behaviour. I am sorry to say that there is not such a realistic prospect. History has taught me that unfortunately if you have your liberty today you will find a way to get a drink and you could be at the hospital this evening. That has actually happened on previous hearings.
  21. There is some mitigation put forward very ably by your solicitor today I accept, but the other aspect which might have persuaded me to suspend, the significant and harmful impacts on others, does not apply. There are, however, factors which mean it would be appropriate for immediate sentence and that is that appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate custody and there is a history of poor compliance with Court orders. I do not think you are a risk danger to others, but you are certainly a risk danger to yourself and having a few weeks off the alcohol might well be good for you.
  22. Standing back from the situation, I have got to look at what the appropriate term is. I have decided that, and this is probably one of the longest sentences I have given you, the appropriate custodial term would be 16 weeks, which would be a penalty for these 16 breaches all to be served concurrently. I am going to give you credit for your guilty plea and I am going to give you 25%, which is a generous allowance because none of them were really at the first possible opportunity other than perhaps the first two or three. However, I accept that you wanted to see the CCTV footage for some of them and the fact that you have admitted all of them today has persuaded me to be as generous I can with the allowance for the guilty plea, so that takes us down to 12 weeks.
  23. You have had almost a week in custody before today and because of the way that the rules work and the prison do not need a credit for time in custody, I need to double that because the way the system works and so that would then leave us with a net figure of 10 weeks. Therefore, today I am going to sentence you to 10 weeks in custody. You will serve five weeks in custody  and you will then be liable for automatic release.