Committal for Contempt of Court: Maunur Rahman
Committal for Contempt of Court
Case No. G03EC085
Clerkenwell & Shoreditch County Court
22 September 2021
District Judge Hayes
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
1. This is an application to commit Mr Maunur Rahman to prison in relation to three alleged breaches of an antisocial behaviour injunction.
2. The case was set down for that purpose. In the interim, there has been a further incident on 18 September 2021 that constitutes an admitted breach. Therefore, Mr Rahman has, additionally, been brought before the Court today in relation to that pursuant to an arrest I understand made at Court this morning.
3. I hereby grant permission to the claimant to amend the application to commit to include the incident of the 18th September 2021 such that that will be dealt with today as part and parcel of the application to commit, with re-service being dispensed with.
4. I have a schedule of allegations within the bundle. The first 2 numbered allegations on that schedule relate to incidents which have already been dealt with by the court. The third allegation on the schedule is that on the 18th July 2021 the respondent was stopped as part of a large group in Dellow Street Car Park in breach of clauses three and four of the injunction. I shall come in a moment to the terms of the injunction.
5. Allegation four on the schedule is that on 5 August 2021 Mr Rahman was loitering with two other people in Watney Street in breach of clauses three and four of the injunction.
6. Allegation five on the schedule is that on the 18th August 2021 the Respondent was in St George’s Gardens, being an area which is inside the exclusion zone set out in the injunction, in a group of 10 males contrary to clauses three and four of the injunction.
7. Allegation 6, and last, is that on the 18th September 2021 Mr Rahman was in the communal gardens running parallel to Sage Street, loitering with a group of four persons, including himself, contrary to clauses three and four of the injunction. This is the matter in respect of which Mr Rahman was arrested at court today and in relation to which I have granted permission to amend to the Claimant.
8. It will be apparent that there are four matters that I am dealing with, although, as I have said, the items on the schedule run to six. The reason for that is that the first two numbered incidents on the schedule have in fact been the subject matter of a suspended committal sentence imposed by District Judge Manners on the 30th March 2021.
9. On that occasion, Mr Rahman in fact admitted six breaches which had occurred over the course of two days. One of those breaches, being on the 6th March 2021, included being in possession of 19 bags of cannabis and various drugs paraphernalia. On the 8th March, being
the second day on which the previous breaches occurred, the incidents included loitering in breach of the injunction.
10. I come to the terms of the injunction. It is an injunction of 23 February 2021 made by Deputy District Judge Sharkey. Mr Rahman was present in court when that injunction was made. The terms of it were read to him, and I am satisfied, and it has been admitted, that he was served with that injunction by alternative means, as permitted by District Judge Sharkey’s order, namely by email.
11. That order prevented Mr Rahman from doing a number of different things. The ones relevant for today’s purposes are these:
12. By paragraph 3 of the injunction, Mr Rahman was embargoed from:
“Loitering in the area hatched out in red in the attached plan which would include but it is not limited to bin chutes, communal areas, stairwell, doorways or car parks, where he has no legitimate or legal right to access”.
13. In addition, by paragraph 4 of the injunction Mr Rahman was embargoed from:
“Being in a group of 3 person (sic) including himself in the area outlined and hatched out in red on the attached map, save for being with immediate family for the purpose of family engagements”.
14. That was the injunction of 23 February 2021. The case came back before Deputy District Judge Sharkey on 16 March, in fact in relation to an alleged breach and Mr Rahman was remanded on bail on that occasion.
15. On the 16th March 2021 Deputy District Judge Sharkey effectively varied his existing injunction, as I read it. That appears to be accepts that the variation was, I think, , to substitute a new plan thereby amending the hatched area. That was varied by reference to the plan itself. Other than that, the injunction continued in the same terms. It is accepted that Mr Rahman was served with that varied form of injunction by email, which was a permitted alternative means, pursuant to that order.
16. The case came back before District Judge Manners on 21 April 2021 for what would have been the trial of the antisocial behaviour injunction. District Judge Manners’ order, essentially, was in the same terms as the varied injunction made by District Judge Sharkey; that is to say, the 23 February injunction as varied by his order on the 16th March 2021. Effectively, District Judge Manners’s order continued, temporally, the injunction until 31 October 2021.
17. However, save for the correction of a slip, it would appear, regarding a pound sign or a euro sign, the remainder of that injunction remained as previously. It is accepted that order of District Judge Manners was also served by alternative means, namely by email, as permitted by that order.
18. Those, therefore, are the relevant orders.
19. I find, against the criminal standard, that each of those orders has been served. That much, in any event is admitted. There is no suggestion that Mr Rahman did not understand the meanings of those orders, or the necessity to comply with them, or the potential sanctions if he did not.
20. Turning to the 4 allegations before me on the schedule of allegations. As regards the 18th July 2021 it is admitted by Mr Rahman that he was indeed in Dellow Street Car Park and that he was there with more than three people, including himself, who were not relatives, and that he was loitering. That therefore constitutes a breach of clauses three and four of the injunction.
21. I have got statements from Robin Crawley, Michael Beet and Constable Keep. Robin Crawley played some video footage of 18 July 2021. It is clear from that evidence that there were 14 or so people there on 18 July 2021.
22. Mr Crawley told me that Mr Rahman had been attending a barbecue. He said Mr Rahman had denied that any grinder was his. Another man came over and said the grinder belonged to him, and that the grinder was for tobacco. Mr Crawley said that he did not find any cannabis. He thought there was residue there but he was not able, under such powers as he had, to stop and search anybody. That, therefore, is the 18th July 2021 incident. I should say that it is accepted, as regards the 18th July 2021 allegation, that it occured within the relevant area on the map attached to the 23 February injunction and, also, temporally within the scope of that injunction.
23. As regards the incident on the 5th August 2021, that the respondent was witnessed loitering with two other people in breach of clauses three and four in Watney Street, that too is admitted. It was agreed that this was, spatially, outside the terms of the 23rd February injunction, as it originally was crafted, but not outside it as varied by the 16 March order. In any event, it is admitted that the incident constitutes a breach that is relevantly before the Court on the committal application.
24. As regards the 18th August 2021, this is temporally and spatially within the 23 February injunction in the terms it was originally granted. The allegation is that Mr Rahman was “found in St George’s Gardens”, being an area which is in the exclusion zone (whether that be the map attached to the 23rd February or the 16 March order) and “in a group of 10 males” contrary to clauses three and four of the injunction. These matters are also admitted.
25. The last matter is being “within a communal garden running parallel to Sage Street, loitering, with a group of four persons” on the 18th September 2021 contrary to clauses three and four of the injunction, as extended, effectively, in point of time, by District Judge Manners on 21 April 2021.
26. As regards that last matter, I am told by Mr Jones, who represents Mr Rahman, that on that occasion Mr Rahman had been going into the embargoed area to pick up some possessions and that he happened upon, or came across, some friends unintentionally. He accepts, however, that these facts also constitute a breach of the injunction.
27. In terms of the relevant law and the sentencing guidelines, and considering matters in mitigation, I remind myself that there are three main objectives in sentencing: namely, punishment, securing future compliance and rehabilitation.
28. I am taken to the Sentencing Council Guidelines for breach of a criminal behaviour order and the process of assessing culpability and harm and then addressing matters of aggravation and mitigation.
29. In terms of the matters raised in mitigation by Mr Jones on behalf of Mr Rahman, he points out and emphasises that those guidelines are in relation to criminal behaviour orders where a potential sentence of up to five years can be imposed. He suggests that needs to be borne in mind when looking at the tables.
30. Mr Jones submits that culpability here is either “A” or “B” on the sentencing guideline table and urges “B”, submitting that these incidents are at the low end of the scale as regards harm. He submits no violence or threats of violence are alleged; no drugs were found, nor alleged to be in the possession of Mr Rahman, and no specific distress or harm or alarm caused to the residents.
31. Mr Jones accepts that there may be some continuing risk but says that such risk is minor and submits that the case does not cross the custody threshold.
32. As regards the question of whether the suspended sentence imposed by District Judge Manners should be activated it was accepted that two of the breaches before the court, namely those of the 18th July and 18 August 2021, are both temporally and spatially within the 23 February injunction. It was accepted, therefore, that in principle the condition of the suspension has been triggered. Mr Jones submits, however, that it would be unjust to activate that sentence, either in whole, or in part, by reference to arguments that he also deploys by way of mitigation generally.
33. Mr Jones submits that the personal circumstances of Mr Rahman are that he and his mother were made homeless as a result of rent arrears. His mother was rehoused but he was not. Mr Rahman’s mother has sadly passed away through coronavirus. Mr Rhaman has been staying in hostels at times and has a receipt with him to prove that in relation to some occasion or occasions. It is submitted that all of his friends, or most of his friends, are in the Tower Hamlets area, where he has lived all his life, and that he now has accommodation arranged in Redbridge by way of a licence. It was in relation to that move that he was collecting his possessions to make a new start on 18 September.
34. In addition, it was said that Mr Rahman has either obtained or is seeking employment or engagement in relation to working as an Uber driver.
35. In summary, those are the points in mitigation. It is also urged on me that there should be credit given for the fact that Mr Rahman has admitted these allegations, it is said, at the earliest stage, in particular as regards the 18 September 2021 matter, it being submitted that today being the first time that is before the Court.
36. As regards the other 3 incidents matters, it is also submitted that today is the first time, realistically, that Mr Rahman could admit these breaches now having had the benefit of legal advice.
37. On behalf of the claimant, it is stressed that these are repeated breaches; that certainly the 18 th July 2021 incident concerns a large number of people; that the underlying, underpinning matters relating to the grant of the injunction are that this type of behaviour is causing distress to the neighbours and residents, and it was expected that Mr Rahman is part of a gang known as “The Shadwell Boys”.
38. I place no weight on that last matter. There is no evidence before me to prove that but I do consider that large groupings, such at that that demonstrably occurred on 18 July 2021, and also occurred on 18 August, clearly would cause a degree of distress or alarm to those in the area.
39. I accept there is no suggestions here of any violence. I accept there is no suggestion of any targeting of any neighbours. However, these are persistent breaches. They flow relatively quickly on the heels of District Judge Manners’s suspended committal order, albeit there would appear to be about a three-month or so period where the matter was not brought back before the Court, or any specific incidents highlighted.
40. I am not satisfied, notwithstanding the mitigation points, that it would be unjust to activate the previous order. It seems to me that the case does cross the custody threshold as regards the new breaches.
41. With regard to culpability, as regards these breaches I can see arguments as to whether it is category “A” or “B”. It is somewhere, as it were, on the cusp between them. I would not describe these breaches as “very serious” but I would describe them as persistent. In that sense, they fall within culpability A, in my judgment.
42. As regards harm, I do not accept that it can be said that they cause little or no harm or distress. However, again, they clearly do not fall within very serious harm or distress. They are in Category 2 in my judgment.
43. Looking at the scale, A (2) would at the starting point which would be one year custody. However, it seems to me that these are starting points. As regards the fact that it is on the borderline between “A” and “B” that of itself reduces one down, in my judgment, from the starting point of a year’s custody. Indeed, if it had been B (2), the starying point would be 12 weeks’ custody.
44. As regards to the last breach, that is to say the 18th September 2021 it is to Mr Rahman’s credit that he has pleaded at the first opportunity. He should have the fullest discount in relation to that. However, as regards the other matters, it does seem to me that today being the trial it is the last possible moment when Mr Rahman could effectively have admitted the breaches. He had legal advice previously and he was here last time round. He could have admitted to them then, and it does not seem to me, that it would be at all right to grant any concession or reduction referrable to that.
45. The other points in mitigation, as regards him attempting now, to put his house in order, are to his credit.
46. Looking at the matters in their totality:
1. I am satisfied the suspended order should be activated in full. It is not unjust to do that.
2. I am satisfied that six months’ custody, running concurrently, is appropriate for all of these incidents; that is to say 18 July 2021, 5 August 2021 and 18 August 2021. For 18 September 2021, in my judgment, six months would have been appropriate, but for the fact that there is the plea at the earliest stage, and there should therefore be a reduction referable to that. Therefore, there shall be four months as regards that.
47. I stress, therefore, that it I am imposing six months for incident three, four and five and four months for incident six, all to run concurrently with each other, and all to run concurrently with the six-month suspended sentence which is hereby activated.
48. Therefore, the total period of custody to reflect all of that is six months.
49. I point out, as I understand I am obliged to point out, notwithstanding the fact that Mr Rahman is represented, the fact that he has the right to appeal without permission from this order; the relevant period within which to appeal (unless extension is granted) being 21 days from today and being, I believe, to a Circuit Judge at the County Court sitting at Central London.