Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 28, 2003

A sentence of two years' imprisonment for breach of a restraining order was not manifestly excessive given the defendant's obsessive behaviour and the background to the offence.Appeal with leave of the full court against a sentence of two years' imprisonment, imposed by the Recorder of Middlesbrough on 13 June 2003, following a plea of guilty on 6 May 2003, by the defendant ('D') to breach of a restraining order. D, who had been declared a vexatious litigant, lived in a property adjacent to a piece of land that he had for some time, been trying to claim title by way of adverse possession. D's neighbours only had access to their own property by passing over that piece of land and D had carried out a campaign of harassment against his neighbours. In October 2001, D was convicted of harassment and a restraining order was imposed pursuant to s.5 Protection from Harassment Act 1997. In 2002, D breached that order by bringing unfounded allegations of criminal conduct against his neighbours which culminated in police searching their premises. D's actions caused great anxiety and as a result the neighbours had decided to move. D had numerous previous convictions that showed a disturbing pattern of a man who wilfully flouted the law. D appealed sentence on the ground that it was manifestly excessive.HELD: (1) When sentencing the Recorder had in mind two factors, namely, punishment and deterrence. The judge was right to have those in mind given the background and the obsessive behaviour of D. The sentence was not too severe and the facts took it outside the guideline case of R v Liddle (1999) 2 Cr App R (s) 439. (2) The judge was faced with the task of how to bring home to D that his conduct would attract severe sanction and how to protect the victims. The sentence of two years was not a day too long.Appeal dismissed.