Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED February 20, 2003

Against the background of domestic violence, it made no difference whether the breach was civil or criminal, and there was nothing wrong with the ten-month sentence imposed for breach of a non-molestation order.Respondent's ('C') appeal from the order of HH Judge Coltart at Hastings County Court on 15 November 2002 sentencing C to ten months' imprisonment for breaches of a non-molestation order. C had had a relationship with the applicant ('F'), who suffered from depression and who had committed suicide on 10 October 2002. During the course of the relationship, C had pleaded guilty to four counts of harassment of F and one of common assault of F's daughter ('J'). The relationship deteriorated, and F sought, but later withdrew, a non-molestation order. In a second application by F, a non-molestation order was made with a return date of 10 October 2002, on which date a further order was made. The judge held that three of the four incidents alleged in the notice to show cause, which concerned an argument in a public house and subsequent events on the same evening, were supported by the evidence of F and J, who were credible and truthful witnesses. The judge rejected C's evidence. In passing sentence, the judge said that the breaches were particularly serious because they occurred on the day the injunction had been made and involved a blatant disregard for the order of the court. C argued as follows: (i) the judge had come to conclusions on the evidence to which no reasonable judge would have come as no complaint had been made to nearby police at the time of the first incident and the judge had failed to resile conflicting statements in C's favour; and (ii) the sentence was excessive with regard to the fact that this was the first time C had committed a civil breach.HELD: (1) This court could not, in the absence of conflicting evidence, interfere with the judge's findings that J was a truthful witness. There was no evidence that showed that the judge was not entitled to form the view he had. (2) Against the background of domestic violence, it made no difference whether the breach was civil or criminal. There was nothing wrong with the sentence imposed.Appeal dismissed.