Committal for contempt of Court in Open Court in the County Court sitting at Bristol: Cowan

|Contempt of Court

Case No B01BS979

In The Bristol County Court
Mr Recorder Monty QC

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Between:

The City Council of Bristol – Claimant

-v-

Kenneth Cowan – Defendant

Mr Recorder Monty QC:

  1. An injunction was granted on 5 June 2015 by which Mr Cowan was prohibited (whether by himself or by instructing or encouraging any other person) from (1) entering the areas edged red on the map attached to the injunction and (2) sitting, loitering or approaching people for the purposes of begging anywhere in the City of Bristol the boundaries of which were shown on a further map attached to the injunction; Mr Cowan was also ordered (3) to accept the next reasonable supported offer of accommodation that is made to him by the Claimant and engage with the support offered at that supported accommodation, and (4) to undertake a detoxification programme as offered to him by Bristol Specialist Alcohol and Drug Service.
  1. It would appear from the evidence that is before the court that the Defendant has been in breach of all four paragraphs of that injunction, and the Defendant was then arrested pursuant to the Order of Deputy District Judge Orme on 26 October 2015, when it was ordered that a warrant of arrest be issued pursuant to section 10 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.
  1. The injunction is an order of the court which must be obeyed and breach of that injunction is a contempt of court. I am satisfied on the evidence which I have read that the Defendant has been in breach of all four paragraphs of that injunction.
  1. When sentencing for the breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction, the court must have regard to the Sentencing Guidelines for breaches of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. The starting point is, what is the degree or nature of the breach, and what is the harm which has been caused?
  1. Having heard what Mr Denford has said, and having read the evidence, I agree with him that the breach falls into the least serious category.   No-one was actually harmed by your breach, and there is no evidence of any distress being caused by the breach, or of any intention by you to cause any distress. However, I also have in mind and must take into account the very long list of events which led to the granting of the original injunction, and the fact that these breaches for which you have been arrested and brought to court today have been committed either immediately or shortly after the injunction was granted.
  1. It seems to me that the correct course is to order that the Defendant be sentenced to 14 days imprisonment for contempt of court. However, I am going to suspend that for a period of 6 months on condition that he accepts the next reasonable supported offer of accommodation that is made to him by the Claimant and engage with the support offered at that supported accommodation, the person responsible for the supervision of that condition being Mr Richard Hawkridge. That is the same requirement as paragraph (3) of the original injunction, and this time the Defendant must comply with it otherwise he is liable to be brought back to this court and could well be sent to prison immediately. The Defendant must also continue to comply with the terms of the original injunction, which means that the Defendant must not enter the areas edged red on the map attached to the injunction nor must he sit, loiter or approach people for the purposes of begging anywhere in the City of Bristol. Again, if the Defendant does not comply, he is liable to committal proceedings or to be brought back to this court for sentencing.
  1. I make that order accordingly, with no order as to costs.