IN THE COUNTY COURT AT ROMFORD CASE No.: B03RM082
2a Oaklands Avenue
Tuesday, 12 th September 2017
DISTRICT JUDGE DODSWORTH
B E T W E E N:
LONDON BOROUGH OF BARKING & DAGENHAM
RICKY HILLIER AND TOMMY OLDS
MISS COLLINS, Counsel appeared on behalf of the Applicant
MISS ADEDEJI, Counsel appeared on behalf of the Respondents who failed to attend the hearing
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1. This is my ruling in relation to the punishment for the contempt which I have already found to be proved. In relation to Mr Olds and Mr Hillier, I have to decide what is the appropriate penalty to impose for breach of the order of 13 December 2016 as varied on 6 June 2017. It is common ground between counsel for the defendants and for the London Borough that the appropriate sentencing guidelines are those for breach of an antisocial behaviour order. Looking at those guidelines, the first exercise for me is to decide what is the nature of the breach and any harm caused or intended. Is this a serious case, is it a case where there has been a lesser degree of harassment, alarm or distress etc. or is this a case in the bottom category where there is no harassment, alarm or distress actually caused or intended?
2. The breach which has been proved is that these defendants were present within an area from which they were excluded. It is a breach of paragraph one of the order not paragraph two which deals with harassment of individuals. On the evidence before me, I was not satisfied that any harassment, alarm or distress was actually caused to any individual or intended by the defendants. So the starting point is in my view that this is a case which falls into the bottom category. Looking at the aggravating features, both defendants have appeared in the committal proceedings essentially for exactly the same thing, being within a prohibited area on a previous occasion. That was on 11 July 2017 when they were both produced from custody, and on that occasion, as they both pleaded guilty and indicated that they wanted the matter dealt with straight away, I decided that no further punishment beyond the day that they had spent in custody was necessary.
3. However, it was made plain to them that they had to start obeying the terms of the order. They have a history of disobedience to court orders and this breach committed on 21 August 2017 was some five or six weeks after a previous breach had been dealt with. I do not find that there is any particular targeting of the person that the order was made to protect or a witness in the original proceedings. The only other aggravating factor is the fact that Mr Hillier and Mr Olds have not attended court either today or on the last occasion when the matter was adjourned to enable them to get legal representation. That counts against them. I also note that they have contested this breach, unlike previous breaches where they admitted their wrongdoing on the first occasion they were brought before the courts.
4. In terms of mitigation, Miss ADEDEJI has pointed to the chaotic nature of their lifestyles, their issues with both alcohol and drugs and the fact that they are vulnerable and might themselves be viewed as needing help. That is true but does not in my view provide much mitigation, certainly not in the situation where they do not seem to be taking any steps to access help or deal with their problems. In my view, the aggravating features mean that this is a case where the custody threshold has been passed. These are individuals who have been given opportunities before to mend their ways and to abide by the terms of the injunction and yet continue to breach it. I am satisfied that a custodial sentence would be appropriate. The next question is whether that should be an immediate custodial sentence or a suspended custodial sentence. In my judgment, a suspended custodial sentence is appropriate in this case where this breach is effectively simply being in the wrong place.
5. Accordingly, I am going to sentence both Mr Hillier and Mr Olds to 42 days' suspended custody. Does the injunction have an end date?
MISS ADEDEJI: Yes sir, it does. I think it is December 2017. Can I just check that?
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Yes, it is, okay. Right, that sentence will be suspended until 4pm on 11 December 2017, being the date on which the injunction expires. Is there anything else to be dealt with? I assume that an application for costs is not being made-
MISS COLLINS: No, sir.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: -because it would seem to be entirely otiose. Right, the only thing is whether I need to fix a date to have them brought back. That is where a committal order is made. That is where you actually commit straight to prison, is it not?
MISS COLLINS: Yes.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: And it is not on a suspended?
MISS ADEDEJI: I don't think, I could be wrong but I don't think so sir, as far as I'm aware but-
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Yes.
MISS ADEDEJI: -but they need to know, don't they.
MISS COLLINS: Yes.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Right. I think I only have to fix a date if I had actually committed them for immediate custody.
MISS ADEDEJI: Immediate custodial sentence, yes.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Yes, so I am not going to do that. It is only a 'may' fix a date. There we are.
MISS COLLINS: I'm grateful sir.
MISS ADEDEJI: Thank you sir.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Do pass on the message that-
MISS ADEDEJI: We will sir.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: - if they find themselves in front of me again, and they almost certainly would find themselves in front of me if they were arrested for a further breach..
MISS ADEDEJI: Sir, yes.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: You know, a short sharp spell at Her Majesty's pleasure may be the next option.
MISS ADEDEJI: Indeed, sir, absolutely.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: And if they are not responding to other disposals, it does not leave the Court much choice.
MISS ADEDEJI: Sir, yes.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: It is a pretty daft thing to get locked up for though. Right, finally I will order an expedited transcript at public expense be provided to the parties.
MISS ADEDEJI: Thank you, sir.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Okay, thank you very much for your help.
MISS COLLINS: Thank you very much.
MISS ADEDEJI: Thank you.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Sorry, did I say 28 or 42 days?
MISS ADEDEJI: Forty-two days, suspended until 11 December 2017.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Yes, that is it.
MISS ADEDEJI: Thank you very much.
JUDGE DODSWORTH: Thank you.
End of Judgment
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