Litigation Recent decisions 26/09/95

Contempt of defective committal order

C v Hackney London Borough Council (1995).

CA (Leggatt LJ, Aldous LJ and Hutchison LJ).

Summary: Error in activating suspended sentence corrected without causing injustice: A father twice breached an order prohibiting him from removing his child from its guardian and was sentenced to two suspended sentences totalling three months imprisonment. On breaching the order again a suspended sentence of six months concurrent with the earlier sentences was imposed. However, the order erroneously stated that the sentence was to run consecutively with the two earlier sentences so that when, after a further breach, the judge purported to activate the sentences for a total period of nine months, he was in error. He subsequently indicated that had he been correctly informed he would have imposed a six month sentence.