Trio jailed for contempt

Posted: 7th March 2014

caravansThree members of a family who ‘raised two fingers’ to the High Court by repeatedly failing to clear their land of caravans and scrap have been jailed for four months for their flagrant contempt of court.

The couple and their son had, in April 2013, been issued with an injunction requiring them to clear part of their land of mobile homes and assorted debris. They were given eight weeks to lay topsoil and plant grass on the site and were banned from allowing anyone other than a short list of specified residents to live on it.

During what the Court described as ‘a long and most unhappy planning history’, the land had been the subject of nine planning enforcement notices over a 25-year period and the father and son had been prosecuted for admitted breaches of planning control and given community sentences.

There had been ‘significant breaches’ of the injunction, in that there were 19 people living on the land in rented caravans and a collection of tyres, vehicles, containers, skips and various other items remained in place. Topsoil and re-seeding works had yet to be completed seven and a half months after the deadline.

The trio argued, amongst other things, that there had been problems with their contractor and that inclement weather had thwarted attempts to restore the land to its pristine state. However, the Court observed, “The three defendants seem consistently to have raised two fingers to the local authority. In contravening this injunction, they have now decided to include within that generous gesture this Court."

Describing it as ‘a very bad case’, the Court found that there was ‘no alternative’ but to commit the trio to prison for their ‘flagrant’ contempt. The Court concluded, "In all of the circumstances, each of the defendants will go to prison for four months.” They were also ordered to pay the local authority’s substantial legal costs.