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LB of Islington v Williams & Another [2013] EWHC 2693 (Fam)

Sentencing of a mother for contempt of court arising from a breach of a collection order in respect of her son.

Neutral Citation Number:  [2013] EWHC  2693 (Fam)
Case No: FD 13 P 00660


Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
Date: 18/04/2013






(1)  JACQUELINE  WILLIAMS First Respondent

(2)  EDDIE  RAMSEY Second Respondent

Transcription by
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MISS STANLEY (instructed by Legal Department, London Borough of Islington) appeared on behalf of the Claimant.
(instructed by Grazing Hill Law Partners,) appeared on behalf of the First Defendant.

Judgment Sentence
1.  Jacqueline Williams.  Last Friday, I found you to be in contempt of court.  I found that you were in breach of paragraphs 3(a) and (b) of the Collection Order made by Holman J to the criminal standard of proof.  I now have to sentence you for that contempt, having remanded you in custody since then.

2.  I have carefully taken into account all the mitigation that has been urged on your behalf by Mr De Burgos.  I accept that you are strongly opposed to the Care Order that has been made in this case in relation to X.  I do not believe that that is relevant to my sentence.  You are entitled to disagree with that Care Order on a personal basis, although you have to accept that the court has made a Care Order, but I am sentencing you simply for the breach of the Collection Order.  I therefore put out of my mind entirely your position in relation to the Care Order.

3.  I also have heard today, although I did not hear last week, about the attempts that you have made to contact the Press about this matter.  If is, of course, right that pending my making an order for publicity, which I did today, there was no entitlement to any publicity in this case. 

4.  I also take into account the fact that you are the primary carer for a 15 year old girl.  In my view, that is the only matter that distinguishes your case from that of Mr Ramsey's.  I sentenced Mr Ramsey to four months' imprisonment.  I consider that this contempt is very serious.  It is so serious that a fine cannot be justified.  I have also taken the view that, despite the very well-crafted submissions made on your behalf by Mr De Burgos, a suspended sentence cannot be justified either.  I therefore propose to deal with the matter today and pass a sentence of imprisonment.  This will be the shortest, which, in my opinion, matches the seriousness of your contempt, whilst taking into account the mitigating factors that have been raised before me and I have just outlined.

5.  The sentence is, therefore, one of three months' imprisonment.  I have reduced it from the sentence imposed on Mr Ramsey by one month to take into account the fact that you are the primary carer for your 15 year old daughter.

6.  You will serve one-half of the sentence in custody.  The time that you have spent on remand in custody will count towards your sentence.  You are at any stage entitled to apply to me to purge your contempt.  This will involve you finally complying with the order for disclosure as to the whereabouts of your son.  If you comply, I will be very sympathetic to an application to purge your contempt.  Indeed, I can make it quite clear already that I take the view that the punitive element of the sentence has already been served.  I will, therefore, release you as soon as X is found.  Do you understand?  Yes.  Thank you very much.

MR DE-BURGOS:  My Lord, can I formally ask for bail pending appeal?

MR JUSTICE MOOR:  I understand that you make the application.  I refuse bail pending appeal, but you can, of course, apply again to the Court of Appeal.