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

|Contempt of Court

B00BS979

Bristol City Council – Claimant

-v-

Adrian Hill – Defendant

Written judgment of Deputy District Judge Orme on the Claimant’s application for the Defendant’s committal which was heard on 23 September 2015.

  1. This is the application of the Claimant local authority for the committal to prison of the Defendant, Adrian Hill, for breaches of an injunction order made on 24 April 2015 as amended by the order made on 12 June 2015.
  1. The order dated 24 April 2015 forbids the Defendant from:
  1. Sitting, loitering or approaching people for the purposes of begging anywhere in the City of Bristol. The boundaries of the City of Bristol are shown edged in black on the map attached to the order marked “2”.
  2. Approaching Michael Barton in any way.
  1. The order dated 12 June 2015 adds a further clause prohibiting the Defendant from entering the area edged in red on the map attached to the order marked “1” (“the prohibited area”). The prohibited area includes the Clifton Village and Queen’s Road, Clifton areas of Bristol.
  1. A warrant for the arrest of the Defendant was issued on 5 June 2015 which lead to a hearing on 17 July when the Defendant was committed to prison for 6 weeks for breaches of the order. The Defendant was released from prison on 6 August 2015.
  1. The Claimant alleges that the Defendant has made further breaches of the order. On 21 August a warrant for the arrest of the Defendant was issued. He was arrested on 26 August and remanded on bail to appear at Bristol Magistrates Court on 28 August. The Defendant failed to appear on that occasion, the hearing was adjourned to 18 September and a further warrant for the Defendant’s arrest was issued.
  1. The Defendant was arrested again on 15 September and released on bail to attend the Bristol County Court on 18 September.
  1. The Defendant did not attend the Bristol County Court on 18 September. As the Court was not satisfied that the Defendant had been served with notice of the hearing, it was adjourned to be heard today, 23 September. Time for service of the order was abridged to 4pm on 21 September.
  1. The Defendant was served personally with notice of today’s hearing at 2.20pm on 21 September. The Defendant has failed to appear at court today.
  1. I am satisfied that the Defendant was properly served with notice of today’s hearing and that he was aware of it. I decided to proceed with the committal application in his absence.
  1. I have read the following witness statements and heard the oral evidence from the witnesses confirming the contents of their statements:
  1. Deanna Mason, statement dated 18 August 2015, who gives evidence of seeing the Defendant in the prohibited area on 7 occasions between 8 and 17 August on 4 of which she believed him to be begging;
  2. PC Jeremy Burstow, statements dated 9 August (x4), 12 August (x2)m, 12, 24, 26 and 28 August, who gives evidence of seeing the Defendant in the prohibited area on 9 occasions between 8 and 28 August on each of which the Defendant was believed to be begging;
  3. PC Mark Blackledge, statements dated 19 August, 15 and 16 September, who gives evidence of the Defendant being in the prohibited area on 3 occasions between 26 August and 15 September.
  1. I have also read the witness statement of PC Kate Matthews dated 18 August which gives evidence of the Defendant being in the prohibited area on 10 occasions between 6 and 17 August on 6 of which she believed him to be begging. PC Matthews was not available to give oral evidence.
  1. Having heard and read the evidence, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Defendant was in breach of the order on each of the occasions mentioned. The Defendant was found in the prohibited area on 29 occasions between 6 August and 15 September and on 19 of which the Defendant was begging.
  1. It is the quantity and persistent nature of the breaches which make the breach of the order so serious rather than the individual nature of each breach. The Defendant appears to have deliberately ignored the terms of the order and all attempts to assist him mend his ways.
  1. I have considered the sentencing guidelines for breach of an anti social behaviour order. Although the individual breaches are relatively minor, they are aggravated by:
  1. The persistent nature of the breaches and the Defendant’s apparent reluctance to have any regard to the terms of the order;
  2. The fact that the breaches which I am considering started only 2 days after the Defendant was released from prison following committal for previous breaches;
  3. That the Defendant has already been punished for breaches of the same order which were of the same nature.
  1. The Defendant shows no signs of being prepared to engage with the authorities or those that may be able to help him. In the circumstances a community order would not be appropriate and I see no alternative other than a custodial sentence and I consider that the appropriate terms is 3 months for each breach to run concurrently.

Deputy District Judge Orme
23 September 2015