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Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at West Cumbria: Tony Logan

|Contempt of Court

An injunction order was made against Tony James Logan on the 15 October 2018 by which he was to ensure he allowed access to his premises for the purposes of a gas safety inspection. He was present in court when that injunction order was made and had representation. Indeed he agreed to the order being made and further to a date on which he would allow access, namely the 24 October 2018.

He did not allow the access. On the 15 November 2018, the claimant applied to commit Mr Logan for breach. There have been problems with the claimant serving that application upon Mr Logan as he has blocked off his letterbox. An alternative method of service needed to be ordered. This is the third hearing on the committal, Mr Logan being given every opportunity to attend court and explain his position. He has not attended. I am satisfied that he has been served with each order made by the court and the paperwork in support of the application and affidavits filed subsequently. He fully knows the case he has to meet and has known that since before the first hearing on the 7th January 2019.

The court on the 7th January 2019 was satisfied that he had broken the injunction on the 24th October by failing to allow access and on the re-arranged date of the 5th November. I am also satisfied that is the case reading the unchallenged and detailed evidence from the claimant.  I am not satisfied that he has broken the injunction on the 14th January 2019 by making it difficult for the contractors to get in on that date. They did get in and did carry out the gas safety check.

I need to sentence for the 2 breaches, looking at punishment of those breaches, attempting to secure compliance with the order, and if possible looking at rehabilitation. I have considered the sentencing guidelines and consider this to be a deliberate breach of the order, Mr Logan being fully aware, I am satisfied of what he needs to do, but it falls within culpability B. I am satisfied that looking at the harm, it falls within category 2. The breach on this occasion did not cause very serious harm, but certainly it could have done had the inspection not actually taken place subsequently. The starting point is a custodial sentence of 12 weeks.

The court considers a custodial sentence is appropriate. The court does have the power to suspend such a sentence. Looking at the aggravating facts, namely Mr Logan was present in court when the order was made and knew what was expected of him, and the mitigating facts, clearly Mr Logan is struggling with his mental health, though is, I am satisfied, perfectly capable of understanding what is expected of him, having attended court on the first occasion, and liaising with the landlord over rent arrears more recently; and the inspection having gone ahead without active physical opposition from Mr Logan, I consider it is appropriate to suspend the sentence, a sentence of 12 weeks is the appropriate length for both breaches, suspended until the end of the existing injunction on the 15th October 2021 at 4.00pm. An immediate custodial sentence does not secure compliance with this order moving forward, since access to the property will not now be required until October 2019.