Committal for Contempt of Court: The Guinness Partnership Limited -v- Mr Adam Willey

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Claim Number: K00EX025

In the County Court at Exeter

22 September 2023


His Honour Judge Timothy Walsh


The Guinness Partnership Limited


Mr Adam Willey



  1. Mr Willey, I am going to pass sentence today in connection with two admitted breaches concerning your behaviour on 2nd of September of this year, that being a breach of the order of District Judge Griffiths which was made, as you know, on 16 January 2023. For the avoidance of doubt, those admitted breaches are that on 2 September 2023, in breach of the terms of that injunction, you threatened to burn down property in Fortibus Road, Exeter, and that on the same date, also in breach of the terms of that injunction, you threatened a resident in Fortibus Road with the words “Do you want to get fucking done?”
  2. In passing sentence, I have had regard to the sentencing guidance in the Court of Appeal decision of Wigan Borough Council v Lovett [2023] 1 WLR 1443 and, in particular, I have had regard to paragraph 39 of that judgment, where it impresses upon a judge in my position that the purpose of sentencing is: (i) ensuring future compliance with the court’s order; (ii) punishment; and (iii) rehabilitation.
  3. So that there is clarity about the basis upon which I am sentencing, I regard the threat to burn down property in Fortibus Road to have been a deliberate breach of the Court’s order which falls between categories A and B as they are defined in paragraph 47 of the Lovett decision.
  4. Whilst limited evidence of harm has been provided, the conduct which you have admitted would plainly have caused marked distress to those who heard it. It is, for the purposes of paragraph 48 of Lovett, a case which falls into category 2. So, it is the border of A and B for culpability and category 2 for harm.
  5. The result of that, applying the matrix at paragraph 54 of Lovett, is that the starting point is, in effect, a two month custodial sentence.
  6. A number of factors bear on the sentence that I am passing today by way of mitigation. Whilst I am sentencing for the breach of the civil order – that is what I am concerned with – I have borne in mind that you have already been sentenced for the criminality which underpins that breach in the Magistrates’ Court (in the light of what has been said to me by Mr Harris on your behalf today). The second point, is that you will get a full one-third credit for your early acceptance that you breached the order. Thirdly, I have particularly borne in mind the significant descent in your personal circumstances that appears to have resulted from the breakdown in your marriage which, in turn, appears to have been the result, at least in part, of the pressures that you as a family were under following your future wife’s diagnosis with cancer in 2014. That also appears to have been the driving factor in what you accept is now your alcohol dependence.
  7. I did note on previous occasions that, when one considered your previous criminal record, whilst you had been in difficulties as a younger man there appeared to have been a trigger point later in life for a return to conduct of this type. That has now been explained to me today. It does not excuse your behaviour, but it does explain it.
  8. I am, in light of that mitigation, concerned that any sentence I pass should not simply serve to compound or further the deterioration in your personal circumstances. I have also considered what has been said about the loss of contact with your children at present. They are still young; they are only 10 and 12. Your being in custody will not help your position in relation to seeing your children or cultivating a relationship with them. That is all, in my assessment, very significant material mitigation.
  9. Allowing for that, and notwithstanding the starting point of two months, I would have passed a sentence of six weeks (or 42 days) custody for the first breach threatening to burn down property. In addition, however, I give credit for your early plea of one third. That reduces your sentence to 28 days.
  10. Whilst I very much kept in mind that the thrust of the decision in Lovett, was that a custodial sentence is an order or determination of last resort, given the seriousness of this breach I consider that a custodial sentence was the only proper outcome. Against that 28 day sentence, a credit for time served of two days needs to be doubled up to four days. The sentence will be 28 days less four, so 24 days would have to be served. I pass no separate sentence in relation to the second breach of the order concerning the threat to the other resident having regard to the nature of that breach and the totality principle.
  11. A further factor of significance, returning to the principles in Lovett, is that the primary focus of the court’s order is to bring about compliance with the order of the Court. In the circumstances, in view of the fact that this is the first time that you have been before the Court for a breach of this order, the proper order is that I should suspend that sentence, and I suspend it for 18 months. That suspension will, effectively, tie in with the period of your separate conditional discharge. Suspension is on condition that you comply with the terms of the injunction order going forward.
  12. So, in summary, I impose a sentence of 28 days less four days for time served, suspended for 18 months, conditional upon compliance with the injunction order dated 16 January 2023.