Inveterate Trespasser Rightly Jailed for Contempt, Court of Appeal Rules

It is in the nature of litigation that the losing party frequently feels that the judge was wrong and the outcome unjust. However, a case in which a householder repeatedly lost his liberty, and ultimately his home, due to his defiance of court orders shows how important it is to accept judicial decisions and move on.

The man claimed to enjoy an unrestricted right of way on foot over part of the garden of an adjoining property owned by a social housing provider. His arguments to that effect were rejected by a judge, but he refused to accept that outcome and engaged in numerous acts of trespass.

Court orders requiring him to keep off his neighbour's land had no effect and he had been repeatedly sentenced to jail terms of increasing length for contempt of court. In an attempt to recover its substantial costs of the proceedings, the social housing provider eventually obtained a possession order against him. However, he had refused to leave his home and had continued to trespass as before.

In dismissing his challenge to his most recent, 14-month, prison sentence, the Court of Appeal noted that his relentless acts of trespass had caused alarm and distress to the social housing provider's tenants. Given his lack of remorse and the absence of any sign of him changing his ways, the Court found that there was nothing excessive about his punishment, which could be viewed as lenient. The Court warned him that if his defiance continued, he could look forward to further loss of liberty.