SITTING AT GLOUCESTER & CHELTENHAM
B e f o r e :
|GLOUCESTER CITY HOMES||Claimant|
|JANE BEARD & ORS||Defendants|
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Suite 204, Kingfisher Business Centre, Burnley Road, Rawtenstall, Lancashire BB4 8ES
DX: 26258 Rawtenstall – Telephone: 0845 604 5642 – Fax: 01706 870838
Counsel for the Defendants: MR KING
Crown Copyright ©
DISTRICT JUDGE DAVIS:
MR BIRCH: My leg is playing up but I will stand up, your honour.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: If your leg is playing up do not trouble yourself. Do stay sitting down.
MR BIRCH: Okay, yes, thank you, your honour.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: On 16th January 2015 this court issued an injunction order. You were present at court on the day in question and I spoke with you about the consequences of breaching this order. I told you that if this injunction order was breached it was likely that there would be severe consequences. The order itself was very clear in the terms that were set out within it. It told you you should not undertake certain types of behaviour. The order has, at its head, a warning, "If you do not comply with this order you may be held in contempt of court and imprisoned, or fined, or your assets may be seized." The order itself prevented you from using or threatening violence against a number of persons set out in paragraph 1 of my order. It forbade you to shout or swear or to use abusive language, or make rude or insulting gestures. It forbade you from causing a nuisance or annoyance to the persons mentioned in the order and generally restricted your behaviour. That order was granted because I was satisfied there were grounds so to do.
MISS BEARD: Thank you, your honour.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Make no mistake. If there is a further breach of this injunction, that suspended sentence will bite and there will be a further sentence on top of that. Do not leave this room thinking you have got away with it, you have not. I will deal with this case if it comes back before me. This case will be reserved to me and you can expect a fairly severe consequence for any further breach. Am I making myself clear?
MRS BEARD: Yes, you are, your honour. I would like to say sorry for all the inconvenience I've caused.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Yes. Now, Jonathan Ward?
MR KING: Robert Edwards, sir.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: I am sorry, Robert Edwards, wrong piece of paper. Stand up please, Mr Edwards.
MR EDWARDS: Thank you.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Ellen Birch
MR KING: Not in relation to committal, sir.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Thank you. Mr Wightwick?
MR WIGHTWICK: No, not in relation to sentence, no. They were concurrent on each—
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Yes. Where the suspended orders are made they are for a year. Now, what other matters need to be dealt with?
MR KING: Sir, the matter of possession and the date on which possession should be granted and I would ask, just for the avoidance of doubt, that the three months that was requested by the defendants still be the appropriate order, particularly as people are now going to be spending time in prison and affairs will need to be arranged. Of course, sir, it is still open to you if you would consider it, to amend the injunction to allow a longer period certainly for Miss Beard to make her arrangements.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Yes. Mr Wightwick, what would you have to say about the issue of possession?
MR WIGHTWICK: Well, since my client said that they would be content for a 28-day order, we learned that there were further incidents in May. We have now played the recordings of those incidents to Mr King who has confirmed that he does not need to hear any more. They are incidents of loud shouting between Jane Beard and Michael Birch on, we think, both occasions and we therefore have a very serious situation at the property because, as I said earlier, we have two neighbours who have moved out. One of them has moved out temporarily for a week to go away during the course of these proceedings, the other one has barely been there for some considerable number of months because she finds it impossible to remain overnight there. The only other resident, as we have heard, is somebody who works during the day so is not troubled by the fights and arguments that are happening during the daylight hours. Now, in terms of enforcement of the order, therefore, unfortunately we would ask that it be enforceable immediately or as soon as possible after today. The powers that be in the council, in the homelessness team will not take any action unless an order is actually enforceable imminently. They will say that the applicant is not actually homeless at the time in any event. So whether you are minded to make an order forthwith and not to be enforced by warrant before a date fairly soon and whether that be 14 days or not is a matter for you. However, unfortunately sympathy has somewhat evaporated since this morning.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: What we are certainly talk about here, of course, is time for Ms Beard to rehouse herself. She has now been shorn of a significant part of her support network.
MR WIGHTWICK: Yes, indeed and I realise that certainly if these two daughters, I believe she has five daughters, will be in custody there will be others who will be able to help her. If other members of the family are able to help then it may be that Julie and Ellen would not be involved.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: And both advocates, you are content that it is a matter for my entire discretion, bearing in mind the merits of the particular case?
MR WIGHTWICK: That is it.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: That is the basis on which I have got to make a decision.
MR KING: It is a matter for your discretion, sir. Could I say… obviously there is a certain amount of distress going on. First of all, in relation to the evidence of recent telephone tape recordings, I have heard some of them. They really do not throw much light onto the situation and also if Mr Birch is going to be absent from the property one imagines that there will be no danger of the neighbours experiencing problems from him at least and presumably if Mr Birch and Miss Beard have been arguing, then of course they will not be hearing anything from Miss Beard as well if Mr Birch is absent. So, yes, it is simply a question of whether Miss Beard can house herself and how long that will take. I disagree with my learned friend when he says that the powers that be in the council will not necessarily look at the situation until the possession order is imminent. I take it by that he means that a bailiff's warrant has been applied for. In a case of somebody with severe disabilities with the situation that Miss Beard finds herself in, social services are more likely to act more quickly.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: How long does it take to obtain a warrant in this court at the moment?
MR WIGHTWICK: Depending on what is on the face of the order, of course, sir, the bailiffs will not execute any warrant that is actually given to them within less than a week so it depends when you want to move [on?]
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: All right, thank you.
MR WIGHTWICK: Just costs, sir. Chambers have been served. I know it is somewhat academic but—
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Costs follow the event?
MR KING: Costs follow the event, sir, subject to the usual legal aid orders because there are legal aid certificates—
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Yes, absolutely.
MR KING: —in respect of everybody apart from Michael Birch.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Save in respect of Mr Birch?
MR KING: Save in respect of Mr Birch and, of course, I am bound to ask for legal aid detailed assessments or whatever it is currently called.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: And you shall have it.
MR WIGHTWICK: I have done four draft committal orders in respect of members of the family of which I hand two to you because I just wanted to confirm that you are happy with the format because it is not on the standard court form but it is a form that Gloucester has used before.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Why do I not check with my listing department what order they would like to receive from you?
MR WIGHTWICK: Yes, well, I can, it would take me a long time but I can transpose all of that information into a standard committal order but that form is accepted. I have inserted a clause as to the summary assessment of costs on that as well. I also suggested amending the injunction to deal with exclusions, following their release. I do not know whether you have got any views on that, sir?
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: I do not think it is necessary. I think if they have not learned their lesson this time, they will never learn it.
MR WIGHTWICK: No, well, that may well be right.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: All right, I will look at this order. I do not think I need to keep the parties here, they can be taken away.
MR WIGHTWICK: They will need copies of that order and the warrant of committal before they leave the court unfortunately.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: I meant within this room.
MR WIGHTWICK: Oh, of course, yes.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: They can go to somewhere secure outside.
MR WIGHTWICK: All right, yes, although those who are being put in prison immediately have got to be released to the relevant staff.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Yes, all right. If they would like to wait in a room elsewhere rather than in this particular room, we can talk about the form of the order.
MR WIGHTWICK: We can probably do that, I am sure. So sorry, sir.
MR BIRCH: Excuse me, your honour.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Do sit down.
MR BIRCH: Can I have a word with you, please? My wife won't manage on her own now because she got… she's got to have 24 hours minding. She won't manage on her own.
MISS BEARD: And I will have my [inaudible], all right? You've done it now, all right? I'll tell you now, that's it now. Have my keys, please. I'm going to hand the keys in. I can't take all the [gloom?]. I can't. My other daughters, they've got children. My other children have got children of their own. They haven't got time to look after me. They can't look after me, they've got children. I haven't seen my eldest daughter. I've fallen out with her. No, no.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Thank you, Mr Edwards.
MR EDWARDS: Thank you, judge.
MISS BEARD: I hope you're satisfied. [Inaudible]. Splitting the family up.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Now, I will go and consider this order. Talk to listing and find out what I need to sign before this matter can be dealt with today. Thank you for your assistance, Mr Wightwick. Thank you, Mr King. Is there anything else I really ought to say at this stage?
MR WIGHTWICK: No. There are some little omissions that I need to change on those orders and Mr King has not had an opportunity to look at them properly.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Why do you not show Mr King?
MR WIGHTWICK: I can do that.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: I will see if I can go and sign the appropriate warrants downstairs.
MR WIGHTWICK: Certainly, sir and while you do that I will effectively need to get rid of the bits that are extraneous and we can be back here in, I would have thought it will take me another 15 minutes.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: All right. Also in court I have got Charlotte Newman, is that right?
MR WIGHTWICK: Yes, you have.
MISS NEWMAN: Yes, sir.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Thank you very much for your assistance in this case. Thank you for your statement.
MISS NEWMAN: That is all right, sir, thank you.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: Thank you all for coming. I will just see the counsel, I think, going forward if I need to do so. Everyone else can be released.
MR KING: Thank you sir, yes.
THE DISTRICT JUDGE: All right? Thank you, please do not wait.