Committal for Contempt of Court: London Borough of Tower Hamlets -v- Ahmed

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Case Number: H03EC459

In the County Court and Clerkenwell and Shoreditch

30 April 2024

District Judge Bell


London Borough of Tower Hamlets




  1. I am concerned today with what penalty to impose in respect of Mr Shahin Ahmed in relation to breaches of an injunction that was granted pursuant to Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 on 30 December 2021. The Claimant issued an application for committal. At a hearing on 13 February 2024 I dealt with the issues of breach having heard and read the evidence. The injunction has, for today’s purposes, two relevant provisions that at paragraph two which is the defendant was forbidden from entering an area hatched on the plan attached to the injunction which includes an area known as Beaumont Square, “the exclusion zone”, and secondly, paragraph four in which he was forbidden from being in possession of any illegal drug, any illegal substance or drug paraphernalia in any London Borough.
  2. I found that he had breached the order, first, that at 7.00pm on 8 March 2023 he was in possession of a crack pipe, being drug paraphernalia in the Borough in breach of paragraph four. Secondly, at around 4.15pm on 22 June 2023 he was loitering around the junction of Eastbury and Beaumont Square, an area within the exclusion zone and, therefore, in breach of paragraph two. Thirdly at around 7.20am on 1 August he was in possession of a crack pipe and drug paraphernalia again within the Borough in breach of paragraph four. Fourthly, at around 2.00pm on 17 December 2023 he was in possession of a crack pipe and wire wool being drug paraphernalia and also crack cocaine in Beaumont Square being an area within the exclusion zone; that is two breaches, first of two and of four of the injunction.
  3. Mr Ahmed has a history of being brought to this court. He was arrested first in March 2022 and District Judge Manners dealt with that matter and found a breach but no sentence was imposed. He was arrested again on 24 July 2022 for being in possession of drug paraphernalia and that matter ultimately was dealt with by way of a committal application that District Judge Jacobs dealt with in September and October 2022 when she found it proved that there had been a breach and she imposed a four-week custodial sentence suspended for compliance until 30 December 2023. He was arrested again on 8 March 2023. That was then dealt with by way of a committal application which was withdrawn. He was subsequently arrested in December 2023 and the matters of 8 March and 17 December became, along with the two other matters I have referred to, part of the claimant’s application dated 21 December 2023.
  4. I need to consider what penalties I impose, if any, in relation to the various breaches that I have already found. I should say at the outset that Mr Ahmed has declined to participate in these proceedings either in relation to the findings of breach or in relation to today and I have already given a judgment setting out the reasons as to why I am proceeding in his absence. As addressed by the Court of Appeal in Lovett v Wigan Borough Council [2022] EWCA Civ 1631 and others, the starting point for the Court to consider is the appendix to the Civil Justice report that sets out the approach that the Court should consider in relation to any breaches.
  5. The first step is to consider the “culpability” and “harm”. Culpability or blameworthiness is set into three levels:
    (A) High culpability and very serious breaches or persistent serious breaches.
    (B) Deliberate breaches falling between (A) and (C).
    (C) Lower culpability or minor breaches.
  6. There are no issues of violence against persons in respect of the various breaches which I have found. However, I do accept that there is a degree of premeditation to go into the area or to have in one’s possession drug paraphernalia or drugs. Accordingly, in respect of all of the relevant breaches, in my judgment, they fall within Culpability (B).
  7. As to the harm, I need to weigh up all the factors to determine the harm that each has caused. Again, Category 1 is breaches causing very serious harm or distress; 2, cases falling between that; and 3, breaches causing little or no harm or distress. In respect of all three breaches, there is no evidence of any direct harm being caused. Ms Henderson submits that merely going into an exclusion zone has the potential, and she brought to my attention the presence of a care home albeit that there have been no matters that anyone in the care home close to Beaumont Square even witnessed any of the events. However, I accept that being present in Beaumont Square with drugs in an area from which one is forbidden has the potential of causing harm. I consider that there is a difference between those breaches where he is an area to which he is excluded which seeks to protect people and those where he is just in possession of drug paraphernalia outside the area. As such, in relation to those which involve a breach of paragraph two, fall within Category 2. Those that do not include that are in the lower category.
  8. Accordingly, dealing with 8 March 2023 and 1 August 2023, when he is in possession of drug paraphernalia, those, in my judgment, each fall within Culpability B, Category 3 where the penalty is adjourned consideration up to one-month imprisonment. In respect of 22 June where he was in the area, he was not seen with drug paraphernalia. It is said that there are issues of breaking bottles but those are not findings that I have made. This falls within Culpability B, Category 2: the starting point is one month and category range, adjourned consideration to three months. As to 17 August 2023, there are two breaches: both he is within the area but he is within the area in possession of crack pipes and, in this case, crack cocaine. As such, in respect of that, I would consider then that both of those issues fall within B(2).
  9. There has been, obviously, a history of disobedience. These matters have been going on for a considerable period of time. However, there has been no targeting of any individuals. There are no mitigating factors in that he has not attended nor has he made any admissions. As such, I am satisfied that given that there has already been one suspended sentence, this is a case where, as I have already addressed, he is within a range that meets the custodial sentence. He has failed to adhere to court orders over a long period of time. Therefore, in respect of the matters of 8 March 2023, I impose a custodial sentence of 28 days. In respect of the issue on 22 June 2023 when he was merely inside the area, again, it is 28 days. The issue on 1 August 2023, is again imposed at 28 days. The issues of 17 December 2023 where there are two breaches, and I consider culpability greater given that he also had drugs and drug paraphernalia in the exclusions zone, I impose 42 days for each. Those are all to run concurrently.
  10. The issue is whether it should be suspended. Whilst I do not think he is a direct threat to others, clearly, he is of a nuisance factor. He has got a poor history of complying with orders. The previous suspended order has failed to stop his behaviour since it was imposed and, therefore, I impose an immediate custodial sentence and it also activates the suspended order which I shall run concurrently with it.

End of Judgment.