Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at the County Court sitting at Bristol: Hanlon

|Contempt of Court


Bristol City Council – Claimant


Charlene Hanlon – Defendant

Written judgment of Deputy District Judge Orme on the Claimant’s application for the Defendant’s committal which was heard on 24 September 2015.

  1. This is the application of the Claimant local authority for the committal to prison of the Defendant, Charlene Hanlon, for breach of an injunction order made on 28 August 2015. Miss Hanlon was represented by her solicitor, Miss Richards. The Council was represented by Miss Begum, Head of Legal Services for the Council.
  1. The Defendant is the tenant of a flat at 79 Arnall Drive, Henbury, Bristol, her her landlord being the Claimant. The allegations giving rise to the order were allegations that the Defendant repeatedly played loud music and made other noise so as to cause nuisance to the Claimant’s tenant of the flat above, 83 Arnall Drive. That tenant is Agnieszka Grekowicz. There were also allegations of foul and abusive language, threats of violence and threats to damage property made towards Mrs. Grekowicz and members of her family.
  1. The application for an injunction was made under section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The relevant parts of the order dated 28 August 2015 forbid the Defendant from:
  1. Assaulting or threatening to assault anyone within the locality of 79 Arnall Drive;
  2. Aiming foul, abusive or racially derogative language towards anyone within the locality of 79 Arnall Drive;
  3. Shouting, screaming or playing music at a volume that can be heard outside 79 Arnall Drive.

A power of arrest was attached to that part of the order referred to at 3a above.

  1. The order dated 28 August 2015 was made in the absence of the Defendant and was expressed to continue until a further hearing on 1 September. The Defendant was represented at court on 1 September when directions were given for the hearing of the application and the order was extended until 24 September. I heard the application for a full injunction today, 24 September, and I continued the injunction in substantially the same terms for a period of 12 months.
  1. The order dated 28 August 2015 was served personally on the Defendant on 29 August 2015.
  1. I have read witness statements made by Agnieszka Grekowicz dated 30 August, by PC Mann dated 31 August, by Mark Stroud dated 18 September and by Gareth Liggins dated 18 September 2015. Those statements contain allegations that when the Defendant was served with the order and accompanying papers, she went into her flat and could be heard shouting and screaming including “it’s that bitch upstairs, I’ll have her” and then played very loud music for 15 to 20 seconds. There are further allegations that later that day the Defendant said to Mrs Grekowicz “You fucking whore” and “I fucking kill you.” There are also allegations that the Defendant played loud music and shouted during the day. There is a further allegation of loud music being played from the flat on 8 September by the Defendant’s niece and friends when the Defendant was not present.
  1. A complaint was made to the police and on 31 August the Defendant was arrested by PC Mann on suspicion of breaching the order by making threats to assault Mrs. Grekowicz.
  1. The Defendant appeared in court before Deputy District Judge Wales on 1 September when she was remanded on bail on condition that she abided by the terms of the order dated 28 August which was extended, did not return to Arnall Drive and appeared at court on 24 September. On 1 September, the Defendant denied the substance of the allegations made against her.
  1. Before me today, the Defendant, by her solicitor, admitted that on receiving the paperwork on 29 August, she went into her flat, became angry and shouted out at that point “I know it’s that bitch upstairs” or words to that effect. She also admitted that she turned on music very loudly in breach of the terms of the order for a maximum of 15 to 20 seconds.
  1. On the basis of those admissions, the Claimant did not pursue the remainder of the allegations against the Defendant and I did not hear oral evidence. I was asked to determine the matter on the basis of the admissions.
  1. Having heard the Defendant’s admissions, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that on 29 August the Defendant acted in breach of the terms of the order dated 28 August in that she used foul and abusive language towards anyone in the locality of 79 Arnall Drive and she shouted, screamed and played music at a volume which could be heard outside 79 Arnall Drive.
  1. Miss Begum referred me to the sentencing guidelines for breach of an anti-social behaviour order and submitted that the offence fell within the category of “lesser degree of harassment, alarm or distress” and that it was aggravated by the breach being committed shortly after the order was made and the actions were targeted towards the person whom the order was designed to protect.
  1. In mitigation, Miss Richards submitted that the actions were done in a moment of anger when the Defendant was letting off steam at a time when the order had not been explained to her. She submitted that the Defendant had suffered from a bad upbringing and a dependency on drugs and alcohol. She had 2 young children aged 7 and 5 who were living with her great aunt. She was now living with her mother and not at 79 Arnall Drive.
  1. In considering the sentence, I take into account:
  1. That the actions complained about arose directly out of service of the order upon the Defendant at a time when the effect of the order had not been explained to her;
  2. That the Defendant has admitted the breaches before me today, thereby avoiding the need for witnesses to give evidence;
  3. The history of the relationship between the Defendant and her neighbour;
  4. The Defendant’s background and the fact that she now appears to be addressing the background issues by living with her mother so as to remove a cause of friction with her neighbour.
  1. Taking all these factors into account, I consider that the appropriate sentence is a custodial sentence of 2 weeks which will be suspended for a period of 6 months.

Deputy District Judge Orme
24 September 2015