Concurrent criminal and committal proceedings

Friday 23 September 2016

Gill v Birmingham City Council [2016] EWCA Civ 608, [2016] HLR 29, 28 June 2016. The appellant, Mr Gill, had been committed to prison for a term of 14 months and 23 days having been found, following a contested trial, to have breached the provisions of an anti-social behaviour injunction under s153A Housing Act 1996.

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Gill v Birmingham City Council [2016] EWCA Civ 608, [2016] HLR 29, 28 June 2016

The appellant, Mr Gill, had been committed to prison for a term of 14 months and 23 days having been found, following a contested trial, to have breached the provisions of an anti-social behaviour injunction under s153A Housing Act 1996.

The injunction had prohibited him from assaulting, harassing or threatening or using violence against his ex-partner among other things. He was found to have breached the order on seven occasions.

Two of these breaches involved incidences of threats of violence and criminal damage directed at his ex-partner and had also given rise to criminal proceedings. Those proceedings were heard in the Magistrates Court. By the time he came to be sentenced in the committal proceedings, Mr Gill had entered guilty pleas to the criminal charges but had not been sentenced.

All of this was set against a backdrop of previous breaches which had given rise to three earlier sets of committal proceedings.

Mr Gill, who was unrepresented throughout, appealed to the Court of Appeal arguing, that the judge should have rejected his ex-partner’s evidence, that he should not have been sentenced for the two instances of breach that were before the Magistrates’ court and that his sentence was manifestly excessive.

The court rejected the first ground. There was no basis to interfere with the trial judge’s findings of fact.

In relation to the second ground, referring to the case of Lomas v Parle (Practice Note) [2003] EWCA Civ 1804, [2004] 1 WLR 1642, the court reiterated that where there are concurrent committal and criminal proceedings, the first court should not anticipate or allow for a future sentence. It is for the second court to reflect the prior sentence in its judgment and to this end the first court should ensure that a transcript of its judgment is made available to the second court.

On the third ground, the court found that the judge at first instance had failed to take into account the fact that Mr Gill had entered guilty pleas in the Magistrates’ court to the most serious offences and the fact that his deep frustration over his inability to see his son had been relevant to his conduct.

Having regard to the circumstances of the case and the definitive sentencing guideline for breach of an anti-social behaviour order, the court determined that Mr Gill’s sentence was manifestly excessive and substituted it for one of 12 months imprisonment. 

Click here for the judgment.

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