CONTEMPT: H v O (Contempt of Court: Sentencing) [2004] EWCA Civ 1691

16 DEC 2004

(16 December 2004; May, Dyson and Wall LJJ; Court of Appeal) [2005] 2 FLR 329

The level of sentencing for contempt associated with domestic and other violence in cases which preceded the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and perhaps in some later cases, did not fully reflect contemporary requirements and opinion, which now required more condign deterrent punishment for such offences. The fact that the breaches of non-molestation orders in the instant case took place in the context of a father wishing to have contact with the child was not in any way a mitigating factor. However, there must be regard to the statutory maximum sentence in Contempt of Court Act 1981, s 14: great care must be taken to ensure that sentences in two or more courts did not punish twice for the same thing, and in cases of actual or threatened violence, so far as was consistent with avoiding duplicating punishment, sentences for contempt under Family Law Act 1996, s 42 should not be manifestly discrepant with sentences passed in the Crown Court for comparable offences.

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