Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at the County Court sitting at Chelmsford: Colton

|Contempt of Court

In the Family Court sitting at Chelmsford

Case No: CM17C05221

Committal to prison of Mr Tony Colton

Judgment

On 19th May 2017 in care proceedings brought by Suffolk County Council,  I made an interim care order with regard to two children,  one of 3 months of age who is the child of the mother and Mr Tony Colton,   and one of 3 years of age who is the child of the mother and Mr X.

I included in that ICO an exclusion requirement so that Mr Tony Colton was ordered not to enter the town where the mother and children were living.   On that basis,  the two children were to remain living at home with the mother.  A power of arrest was attached to that order. The orders were to last until further order.

At the time of the making of the order Mr Tony Colton was living with the mother and the name of the town was included in the order and therefore Mr Tony Colton was well aware of the town he was excluded from.   Mr X is unaware of the mother’s whereabouts.

Mr Tony Colton was present during the hearing on 19th May and indeed the order was made following the persuasive advocacy of his solicitor who told the court that Mr Tony Colton was prepared to keep well away from the mother and the children,  and indeed to live in his car,  if it meant that the children could remain with the mother.

The preamble of the order includes the following:

“Upon the 3rd Respondent Mr Tony Colton being present in court and the terms of this order having been carefully explained to him”  and

“Upon the court explaining to the 3rd Respondent that any breach of the exclusion order will result in his imprisonment”.

On 1st June 2017 Mr Tony Colton was arrested at the mother’s home in the town from which he was excluded.   I have read the witness statement of PC Matthew Palmer dated 1st June 2017 who found Mr Tony Colton at the premises at 06.40 am.    Mr Tony Colton does not seek to challenge this evidence.

Mr Tony Colton was represented by a solicitor in this hearing who asked me to deal with the matter on submissions.    She explained that Mr Colton had been living in his car and desperately needed a wash and a bed for the night.   He did not think it was safe to return to the area where his mother lived because of police advice that he was at risk from Mr X.     He had not understood the purpose of the order.   He was now intending to stay with his mother and would not breach again.

I rejected Mr Tony Colton’s reasons for breaching the order as I was not satisfied that he could not have gone to stay with his mother at an earlier stage or that he had no other options open to him.   I was satisfied that Mr Tony Colton was fully aware of the order and the reasons for it but had put his own needs above those of the children.     The court had at the previous hearing read a parenting assessment which suggested that the mother could provide adequate care for the children if left undisturbed by Mr X and by Mr Tony Colton.      Mr Tony Colton was well aware that the Local Authority had wanted to remove all the children from the care of the mother because it concluded that the risk from Mr X and Mr Tony Colton was too great and that the mother would not be able to maintain a separation from these men.   Mr Tony Colton was well aware that the court had concluded that the only way the children could remain with the mother was if he and Mr X were kept away from the mother and the children.

For all these reasons the court does not accept that Mr Colton had a good reason to breach the court order and the breach was a serious one:  the court anticipates that the local authority will now consider whether the children can remain with the mother.   Mr Tony Colton is in contempt of court and I sentence Mr Tony Colton to two months immediate imprisonment.

Lynn Roberts
Circuit Judge

1 June 2017