Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at the County Court sitting at Slough: Dakin

|Contempt of Court

Case No: C 00 SL 589

In the County Court at Slough

5 April 2017

Before:

District Judge Parker

Between:

Housing Solutions

-v-

Levi Dakin

District Judge Parker:

  1. Thank you for discussing it with me. I think the position I have come to is this.  You do not need to stand up, it is all right, because I am talking to you generally.
  2. I am concerned about the terms of this order. I do not think I can fairly adjust it today.   I do think there is scope for the court to consider adjusting it.   There are possibilities that could be looked at in more detail after today.  For example, perhaps there could be an arrangement by which Mr. Dakin sees his family once a week – not as often as he would like – at a fixed time, once a week, say on a Sunday, or whatever day is convenient, so that from everyone’s point of view they know when Mr. Dakin is meant to be within what is otherwise an excluded zone and he should only be going directly to his mother’s address and nowhere else.  If he is doing that, the scope for anyone to be upset or suspicious is limited.  If he is found in that zone some other time, then he will be in trouble; indeed he may well end up back in prison.
  3. That might be a fair balance given that there do appear to be real problems on both sides. I do not think though I can actually sort that out because I do not know, for example, what sort of weekly arrangement Mr. Dakin might suggest.   But he does have some help, so he may now be able to put something together that possibly Housing Solutions may even agree to and, if they do not agree to, the court would certainly want to consider at least.  I cannot promise it would say “Yes”, but it might.  I do not think it would be right for me just to change the scope of the order today without more discussion.  That suggests to me that I should be listing a yet further hearing, I am afraid, to look at that possible variation.
  4. That leaves me with the business of today which is to deal with the request to commit Mr. Dakin for the breach on the 7th As to that, to allay Mr. Dakin’s worries, I would say immediately I do not propose to make an order for immediate imprisonment.  I have been very impressed by the detailed explanation which Ms. Harrison has come to court to give me about Mr. Dakin’s circumstances and difficulties.   Summarising that, this appears to me to be a reliable account showing that Mr. Dakin has really significant difficulties, both in terms of understanding and in terms of mental health, which would make it particularly difficult for him to cope with life in general.   Those difficulties, it appears to me, will have meant that he may have felt particular pressure psychologically to go and see his family within the exclusion zone.  The claimants very fairly accept that all they can show, all that is admitted and all they suggest has happened, is one visit which did not involve any abusive or threatening behaviour to anybody else.
  5. I do not want to encourage Mr. Dakin to think that he can get away with breaking court orders, but I do not think, given what he has been through, it would be correct for me to send him to prison immediately. I am also concerned by the suggestion he was self harming because of the difficulties he faced in prison, because I think prison may be a more difficult environment for him than for many people who come before me.
  6. I do have to give Mr. Dakin another strong reason for obeying the court’s orders. I bear in mind, of course, that this was a fairly technical and minor breach.  I also have to take into account, however, that Mr. Dakin has been found to have broken the court’s order on, I think, four previous occasions in 2016.  I will therefore impose a short sentence of imprisonment which will be suspended, so it will not take effect unless another judge at another hearing in the future says it should take effect.   Because this was a very slight breach of the order and, despite the previous breaches, it seems to me appropriate that that period should be only 14 days.
  7. So that is a sentence of 14 days but suspended and it will be suspended during the currency of the order, so it will be suspended as long as the injunction lasts. I accept the claimant’s submission that the injunction order should be given an end date, the 5th April 2018.   There should be another hearing to discuss whether the exact terms of that order ought to be varied in the way I have suggested we could consider.
  8. That is not the usual structure for a sentencing judgment but I was anxious to get the decision across to Mr. Dakin as clearly and quickly as I could.
  9. Is there anything else you would wish me to cover in that judgment, Mr. McCafferty?
  10. McCAFFERTY: Sir, may I turn my back for a moment?  Thank you, sir.  There is nothing I wish to add in relation to your judgment.