Sentences imposed on a husband for contempt arising from breaches of non-molestation orders were unduly lenient. The Court of Appeal gave additional guidance on the management of concurrent proceedings in the family, civil and criminal justice systems arising from domestic violence incidents.The appellant ('W') sought to increase the sentences imposed on her husband ('H') for contempt of court for breaching non-molestation orders intended to protect her from his domestic violence. W had been subjected to persistent and sinister intimidation and abuse by H throughout their marriage which became the subject of both criminal and family proceedings. Over a 12 month period H flouted a number of court orders including non-molestation orders under s.42 Family Law Act 1996. In addition there had been parallel prosecutions of H under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Under appeal was a decision of a county court judge to impose on H two concurrent sentences of four months for twice breaching the non-molestation orders. It was the third occasion on which H had been sentenced for breaches of the non-molestation orders.HELD: (1) The sentences imposed were unduly lenient. The case was one with an appalling history of intimidation and abuse. The two breaches for which H was sentenced had both been extremely sinister in their presentation and implication. The sentencing judge had erred in his assessment of H's mitigation. Taking into account the element of double jeopardy, concurrent sentences of eight months' imprisonment were appropriate. (2) (Obiter) Guidance was given, supplementing that given by Hale LJ in Hale v Tanner (2000) 1 WLR 2377, as to the inter-relationship between the 1996 Act and the 1997 Act and the management of concurrent proceedings in the family, civil and criminal justice systems arising from domestic violence incidents.Appeal allowed.
 EWCA Civ 1804