QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF HORGLE||Claimant|
|THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS||Defendant|
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Ms K Wilkinson appeared on behalf of the Defendant
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"Used towards Rachel Hilton threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence would be used against her ..."
Then I leave out some words which are not relevant and no one says they are:
"... or where that person was likely to believe that such violence would be used."
That is contrary to section 4 of the Public Order Act.
"Summary of closing submissions from the appellant: there was no evidence given by an independent witness who saw or heard any threats made by Mr Horgle. Ms Hilton's evidence and Mr Akwafo's evidence of the alleged threats were inconsistent.
Summary of the closing submissions from the respondent: there was ample evidence to enable the magistrates to conclude that the appellant had committed the offence."
"Agreed facts: there was an incident in the car park of the United Reformed Church on 20 July 2013.
Disputed facts: whether Mr Horgle used threatening, abusive or insulting words against Rachel Hilton and Albert Akwafo with intent to cause them fear.
Evidence: Rachel Hilton was a credible witness. She gave a clear account of what happened. She tried to diffuse the situation for the sake of her children by encouraging Albert Akwafo to come away and get back in the car so that they could leave.
Her evidence of what EH [that is the appellant] said to her was corroborated by Mrs Cotterall. EH used abusive language which Rachel found threatening and it also frightened the children. Mrs Cotterall said she heard EH say 'fucking bitch' to Rachel several times. She also said that Rachel was distressed, was shaking, was almost crying and looked in shock.
We did not find EH credible. He said he used the word 'bitch' once, whilst all three other witnesses disputed this.
Albert Akwafo: we found him to be mostly credible but we are concerned he said he did not know the defendant when there were so few people around. However, his description of the incident does tally with that of R and Mrs C.
We accept that A was called a 'fucking bastard 'by EH and this would have caused some distress. However, there is some discrepancy in his evidence, eg when he said that staff pulled EH away from him and this was not corroborated by Mrs C.
The alleged spitting and use of the key as a weapon has not been proved, because it is one word against another.
Finding: we find EH guilty of the section 4 Public Order Act against RH. We do not find EH guilty of the section 4 Public Order Act against Albert Akwafo."
"Were the Justices entitled to conclude that the defendant was guilty of an offence under section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 where there was no finding of fact that he had the intent to cause fear of immediate unlawful violence?"
"It is well established that an obligation, whether statutory or otherwise, to give reasons for a decision is imposed so that the persons affected by the decision may know why they have won or lost and, in particular, may be able to judge whether the decision is valid and therefore unchallengeable or invalid and therefore open to challenge."
"I readily accept that these difficult decisions are decisions for the Housing Authority and certainly a pedantic exegesis of letters of this kind would be inappropriate. There is, nonetheless, an obligation under the Act to give reasons and that must impose on the council a duty to give reasons which are intelligible and which convey to the applicant the reasons why the application has been rejected in such a way that, if they disclose an error of reasons the applicant may take such steps as may be indicated."
"This court in McKerry v Teesdale and Wear Valley Justices (2000) 164 JP 355, had something to say about justices giving reasons in the pre-1998 Act days, but no doubt with the provisions of Article 6 well in mind. In that case a youth court had agreed to the partial lifting of reporting restrictions in relation to a juvenile offender who appealed against the decision by way of case stated, complaining of inadequate reasons. At page 362, Lord Bingham CJ said:
'... the justices did announce that they were acceding to the request to dispense to the extent to which they did because they considered that the appellant constituted a serious danger to the public and had shown a complete disregard for the law. That was, in my judgment, enough to indicate the basis of the decision ...
It is, however, as I think, the law that justices are not obliged to state reasons in the form of a judgment or to give reasons in any elaborate form ...
In my judgment, the reasoning which is called for depends both on the matter to be decided and the court by which the matter is to be decided. It is not usual for magistrates to give detailed reasons; nor is it usual for juries, who make very important decisions affecting human rights, to give any reasons at all. If an aggrieved party wishes to obtain more detailed reasons from a magistrates' court, then a request can be made to state a case, as was done here, and the justices have given their reasons at somewhat greater length.'"
For those reasons, this appeal is dismissed.