Committal for Contempt of Court: Swindon Borough Council -v- Bradford

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Claim No: J00SN236

In the County Court at Swindon

7 July 2022

District Judge Hatvany

Swindon Borough Council
Martin Bradford

Committal for Contempt of Court

  1. On 1 July 2022 this Court made an Injunction Order (‘the order’) under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (‘the Act’) against the Defendant. The Defendant did not attend the hearing. The Defendant was personally served with the order on 7 July 2022.
  2. The order contained a number of provisions designed to prevent the Defendant from engaging in activities including and associated with begging within the Borough of Swindon.
  3. On 8 September 2022 the Defendant was arrested on warrant for six breaches of the order.
  4. The Defendant was remanded on bail to attend the next hearing on 15 September 2022 which was before me. The Defendant did not attend this hearing and the six breaches were found proved in his absence.
  5. Sentencing of the Defendant was adjourned until a future date (and was subsequently listed for a further hearing on 10 January 2023) with provision for the matter to be restored in the event of any further breaches of the order.
  6. The order resulting from the hearing of 15 September 2022 was personally served on the Defendant on 10 October 2022.
  7. On 14 October 2022 the Claimant made a further application for an arrest warrant following further breaches of the order (some of which post-dated the service of the order of 15 September 2022) and also applied to restore the adjourned sentencing.
  8. The warrant was issued on 14 October 2022 and the Defendant was arrested on 18 October 2022 and presented to the Court, via CVP, on the same date.
  9. The Defendant admitted the further six breaches put to him.
  10. The Court heard from the Claimant, represented by Mr Bigwood, on the matter of sentence. In summary, the Claimant submitted that:
    a. Whilst the sentencing guidelines in relation to ASBO’s could form the starting point for any sentence there is, as set out in Willoughby v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council [2013] EWCA CIV 699 there is, in relation to further breaches of an order, scope to deviate from the guidelines.
    b. Applying the sentencing guidelines the breach resulted in an outcome of:
    i. Level A Culpability – As a result of the persistent nature of the breaches;
    ii. Category 3 Harm – As it could not be shown that the breaches had necessarily caused harm to any persons.
  11. There are 3 main considerations when sentencing a defendant:
    a. The first is punishment for breach of an order of the court;
    b. The second is to secure future compliance with the court’s orders if possible;
    c. The third is rehabilitation.
  12. The Defendant expressed remorse for his actions and explained the mental health issues he is facing. The Defendant assured the Court that he would seek assistance for his addictions and other troubles and that he would not breach the order again.
  13. The Court determined that the correct starting point was a custodial sentence of 3 weeks.
  14. The Defendant was then entitled to:
    a. A reduction by a third for admitting the breaches at the earliest opportunity; and
    b. A further reduction of 2 days so as to recognise the day he had spent in custody.
  15. The Court therefore determined that the correct sentence was one of 19 days in custody.
  16. On hearing from Mr Bigwood, the Court reduced this to 18 days so as to ensure there was no confusion in respects of the requirement to only serve half of any custodial sentence for contempt.
  17. Mr Bigwood made a further submission on whether or not the sentence should be suspended. Mr Bigwood highlighted that this was the first time the Court was being asked to sentence the Defendant.
  18. Having considered the submissions made by the Defendant as to his willingness to obtain support and his willingness to comply with the order in the future the Court determined that the sentence should be suspended. With such suspension to last until the expiry of the order (1 July 2024) with the condition that the Defendant complies with the order.