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High Court jails defendant for breach of planning injunction and terms of suspended sentence

Basildon Borough Council has convinced the High Court to jail a man for contempt and breach of the conditions of a suspended sentence in connection with a lengthy planning dispute.

Charlie Anderson - one of 12 defendants affected by injunction orders - must serve seven months in a young offenders’ institution, Mr Justice Ritchie has ruled.

Basildon secured injunctions last December over development of the site at Wickford.

The Green Belt site has been split into 11 plots with parking areas and underground services for residences.

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In Basildon Borough Council v Charlie Anderson (D3) And Ors [2021] EWHC 2734 (QB) Ritchie J said Basildon had applied to commit Mr Anderson for contempt for breaching various sections of the injunctive orders and for having breached the terms of a four months suspended sentence imposed for a year when he earlier admitted breaching injunction orders.

Suspension conditions included that Mr Anderson would remove any static caravans, mobile homes and touring caravans from the site, not bring any more onto the site or erect any structure capable of residential use and would remove all of the works undertaken in relation to their respective individual plots by 10 April 2021.

Ritchie J said Mr Anderson had admitted the breaches by carrying out groundworks and the creation of hard standing and having failed to remove the development works from the land.

The judge said: “I take into account the very serious nature of the breaches. [Mr Anderson] has persistently pursued a course of conduct which suits himself, breaches the orders of this court, causes huge expense to the taxpayers in Essex, wastes court time and (if that be the final conclusion of the substantive case) breaches the law relating to green belt preservation.”

He was told that Mr Anderson was not good at reading or writing and when he received a letter would show it to someone to read it for him.

Mr Anderson also denied he had been trying to escape the country when he was arrested but was going to Corfu for a 10 days honeymoon.

The court was told that when Mr Anderson received an arrest warrant he did not understand it and thought the police would come and get him when they wanted to.

Although he knew of the injunction orders he said he did not understand them and that his solicitor had told him not to worry about them.

The judge said: “I was not impressed by [his] evidence. I found him to be deliberately manipulative. He engineered the adjournment application on the grounds of having no representation by refusing to instruct his lawyers to represent him for the substantive hearing.

“I do not accept that he is naïve and was misled by his solicitor.... on all or even most matters of importance in this application… I do not accept that this solicitor of the Supreme Court did advise [him] to ignore the court orders.”

The judge said Mr Anderson’s difficulty with reading and writing made no difference to his ability to understand the seriousness and the thrust of the court orders.

He took account of Mr Anderson being aged 19 and with no criminal convictions and said he should serve the four months sentence which had earlier been suspended and, consecutively, three months for breaching the injunctions.

Mark Smulian

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