Committal for Contempt of Court: Wakefield and District Housing -v- Sarginson

County CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

Case Number: F00WF456

In The County Court At Leeds

5 September 2023

His Honour Judge Walsh

Wakefield and District Housing

Judgment (Approved)

His Honour Judge Walsh:

  1. Mr Sarginson, please stand. Thank you.
  2. I have to determine the appropriate penalty to impose on you for a number of breaches of the order made against you on 11 September 2020, as extended on 5 November 2021, 13 December 2022 and by myself on 4 July of this year.
  3. In the original injunctive order of 11 September 2020, made by Deputy District Judge Walker, you were forbidden whether by yourself or from allowing or inciting or encouraging other persons on your behalf, from shouting, using foul language, banging and screaming outside the property known as 110 Towngate, Ossett in Wakefield, including swearing or using obscene language when inside the property so that it could be heard outside the property, including in neighbouring flats, and from using abusive, insulting, intimidating or threatening language and behaviour towards any persons residing within or conducting any lawful activity in the area, enclosed in red on the attached map, which was attached to the order. In addition, after midnight on 10 October 2020, you were forbidden from entering or remaining in the area enclosed in the red part of the attached map.
  4. My powers in sentencing you are limited to the imposition of a custodial sentence not exceeding two years. I have considered the guidance in relation to the penalties for contempt or breach of orders made under Part One of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act of 2014, which appears at Annex 1 of the Civil Justice Council Report, Anti-social Behaviour in Civil Courts published in July 2020, which I found particularly helpful, as it is directed to breaches of this nature. I have not consulted the guidance in relation to reduction in sentence for a guilty plea, because you contested all the allegations.
  5. I remind myself that the objectives to be considered when dealing with breaches under the 2014 Act are first, punishment for the breaches of the Order of the Court, second to secure future compliance with the Court Order, and third, rehabilitation of the person, i.e., yourself, who has been found to have breached the order on numerous occasions.
  6. On 9 February 2021, a number of previous breaches were proved in your absence, and on 9 March the same year, the Court adjourned sentencing generally, with a warning that any further breaches would be sentenced in addition to the previous breaches on 9 February.  Further, on 5 November 2021, a suspended sentence of 28 days was imposed in respect of a further five breaches of the injunction that were committed in July 2021.  That experience must have informed you that any further breaches would be serious ones and that the injunction was put in place to prevent the type of conduct which again you have now committed.
  7. In considering the appropriate penalty, I must first consider the degree of culpability.  Considering the Civil Justice Council Guidelines for breach of the anti-social behaviour orders, I consider that the breaches fall within Category B. They are not very serious, nor can they be said to be minor breaches. They are deliberate and fall somewhere between very serious and minor.
  8. In relation to the harm, I consider that they fall into Category Two. The breaches have not caused very serious distress or harm, nor can they be said to have caused little to no harm, and again they fall somewhere in between.
  9. The starting point, therefore, is custody for a period of one month, with a range beginning from adjourned consideration to three months imprisonment. Nevertheless, I must still first consider whether the breaches have reached the custody threshold.
  10. Your Solicitor, Mr Gallagher, in his skilful and realistic submissions, accepted that the custody threshold had been reached.  Taking into account the number of offences and the nature of those offences, I agree.  These are not the first breaches. There is a history of disobedience and therefore, that increases the seriousness.  The breaches are therefore now nearer the top of the range and the starting point is 12 weeks in custody.
  11. Mr Gallagher informs me today that you are not in good health. I understand you have diabetes, type 1, you also have issues with your blood pressure.  In addition, I am told that you have a blood disease, which has not yet been formally diagnosed, and you also suffer from depression. Mr Gallagher also informs me that you have not been back to your Mother’s property for a period of months, and that is a mitigating factor.
  12. Taking all this into account, and your physical and mental health issues, albeit in the absence of any medical evidence, the shortest term I can impose for these breaches is a period of 70 days in custody.  I impose this period in respect of each breach. However, taking into account the principle of totality, I impose them concurrently. Therefore you are sentenced to a total period of 70 days in custody.
  13. You will be released automatically when you have served half of your sentence.  Mr Gallagher asked me to suspend that sentence and invites me to have regard in particular to your health and the needs to secure accommodation that Mr Gallagher is working hard on your behalf to arrange.
  14. While I have considered this, and even putting aside that there is no medical evidence to corroborate your health issues, you were the subject of a suspended sentence before, which unfortunately did not cause you to cease your behaviour and the conduct complained of.
  15. In my judgment, a suspended sentence is not appropriate at this time.  The Court also sentences on the basis that the prisons do provide adequate medical care, and I have no jurisdiction to find otherwise.  There will be a transcript of these sentencing remarks prepared at public expense, and details of this hearing and results will be posted on the website of the Judiciary of England and Wales.
  16. Finally, I must inform you that you have a right of appeal without the need for permission to be obtained first and that the time limit is 21 days from today.
  17. If there is anything else you need to add, you can speak to Mr Gallagher.