Practice and Procedure

FORD v FORD (2003)

PUBLISHED December 19, 2003

A sentence of two months' imprisonment for breach of an injunction was manifestly excessive as the offence was not premeditated and there was no collision or injury.Respondent's ('F') appeal against conviction for contempt of court for breach of an injunction and a sentence of eight months' imprisonment, comprised two months' imprisonment for the contempt offence and six months' imprisonment consecutive in implementation of a suspended sentence, imposed by HH Judge Meston on 28 November 2003. F had been sentenced in April 2003 to a total of six months' imprisonment, suspended for one year, in respect of breaches of injunctions. All offences involved the intimidation and harassment of F's wife ('V'), the respondent. In November 2003, V alleged that he had followed her in his car and had attempted to push her vehicle off the road. F's alibi that he had been visiting his doctor when the alleged offence occurred was supported by the receptionist at the surgery. The judge found F guilty and imposed the eight-month sentence. F argued that the judge was in error in finding the contempt proved as there were discrepancies in V's evidence, that the eight-month sentence was manifestly excessive and the judge had not taken account of the fact that F had gone for a substantial period without breaking an injunction, that the sentence prevented F from taking university exams, and that F's father was terminally ill.HELD: (1) The judge had to chose between F's and V's accounts, and his conclusion was unassailable to this court. (2) The sentence of eight months' imprisonment was manifestly excessive in the circumstances. The offence was not premeditated and there was no collision or injury. F had shown that he was only too ready to resort to behaviour of this kind. The mitigating factors would be more than adequately taken into account by a reduction in the sentence to six months. There was no reason for not imposing the whole of the suspended sentence. No separate penalty was imposed for the further offence.Appeal allowed in part.