Social Housing Speed Read – anti-social behaviour injunctions
18th July, 2016
Thomas Gill v Birmingham City Council (2016)
In Gill v Birmingham City Council  the Court of Appeal has provided guidance on sentencing to be imposed on a defendant for breaching the terms of an anti-social behaviour injunction.
The case also considered the position where criminal and civil sanctions are relevant to the same incidents. Please click here for further details.
Gill had been sentenced by Judge Wall to 14 months and 23 days imprisonment for breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) dated 29 July 2014. Gill and his former partner, a tenant of Birmingham City Council, had a child together from a previous relationship.
The provisions of the ASBI prohibited Gill from communicating with his former partner and entering the area in which she lived.
Prior to the hearing on 12 February 2016 there had been three previous committal orders made against Gill.
The application for committal involved seven alleged breaches of the ASBI. The judge found all of the breaches proved. Gill appealed.
Lady Justice Gloster said that there was no basis for the court to go behind the findings of fact made by HHJ Wall.
The Court of Appeal judge agreed with counsel for Birmingham that HHJ Wall was clearly entitled to have regard to the factors in making her decision, which were:
- the fact that there had been seven breaches of the order;
- the fact that six of the breaches related to the appellant visiting [his former partner’s] address late at night or in the early hours of the morning;
- the seriousness of the breaches, in particular that committed on 7 January 2016, when there was a threat of violence and damage to property;
- the vulnerability of [the former partner] and the impact that the breaches had on her;
- that four of the breaches took place whilst the appellant was on bail for breach of the ASBI demonstrating ‘a total disregard of court orders’;
- that there had already been three previous committal orders against the appellant.
However, she concluded that “despite these serious features of the case against the appellant”, taking all the circumstances into account, she found the sentence manifestly excessive.
The Court of Appeal judge said that Gill should have been given more credit for his two guilty pleas “and that, taking into account the period of time the appellant had already spent on remand, and the fact that he had made genuine attempts to turn his life around and had obtained a job, which would be kept open for him on his release from prison, the correct sentence in this case is one of 12 months”.
In addition to the conclusion above, the Court of Appeal held that where parallel criminal and civil proceedings arise from the same incidents, (as here) the first court should not anticipate or allow for a likely future sentence, but should ensure that the basis of its sentence was clear and that a transcript made available.
It was for the second court, which should be fully informed, to sentence in the light of the first to avoid suggestion of any double punishment for the same act.
If you have any questions on the issue and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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