Children Matters : Will a court send non Cooperative Parties to Prison?
Brown v Davies ( EWHC 3523 (Fam)
Sentencing judgment in respect of committal for contempt of three members of family of a woman, who had removed her daughter from the jurisdiction, for their failure to divulge the whereabouts of the child.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
2013 EWHC 3523 (Fam)
Royal Courts of Justice
Wednesday, 30th October 2013
MR. JUSTICE KEEHAN
IN THE MATTER OF THE FAMILY ACT 1996
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILD ABDUCTION AND CUSTODY ACT 1985
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE SENIOR COURTS ACT 1981
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE INHERENT JURISDICTION OF THE HIGH COURT
AND IN THE MATTER OF ALICE GABRIELLE DAVIES (dob 18th September 2008)
B E T W E E N :
JULIAN BROWN Applicant
– and –
JACQUELINE DAVIES Respondent
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THE APPLICANT appeared in Person.
MR. LOVE appeared on behalf of the Respondent and the three Contemnors.
S E N T E N C I N G
MR. JUSTICE KEEHAN: Mrs. Patricia Davies, Mr. Brian Davies and Mrs. Melanie Williams, last Friday I found you in contempt of this court, and I found that you knew where your daughter, Jacqueline Davies, and Alice were living, and that you had the means to contact her, and you refused to disclose those details to me despite the fact that I had given you the opportunity on a number of occasions to provide that information. It was because it was such a blatant contempt that I adjourned sentence for you to be legally represented, and I remanded you in custody to await this hearing.
I find that Mrs. Patricia Davies in particular was in especially serious contempt. You told me last Thursday on oath that you had no means whatsoever of contacting your daughter, and yet a few hours later when you are travelling back to Cardiff you are sending texts to your daughter and may well have been receiving texts from her, and that you deleted those. I found last Friday, that you deleted those so that this court and the officers of this court would not be able to detect and find what you had sent to your daughter and/or what she had sent to you.
Very fortunately for the three of you the fact that this matter was heard in public and the press were present has caused, as I have just heard, Miss Jacqueline Davies’s employers to notify her of what had happened in this country and of what had happened to the three of you. In consequence, Miss Jacqueline Davies has now made contact, the court has an address for her and a telephone number, and, as I have been told by the Tipstaff today, she has said to him she will return to this jurisdiction with Alice next Monday. The purpose of the location order that was made and served on the three of you was to ensure that the court obtain information about the whereabouts of Alice so steps could be taken to bring her back to this jurisdiction and for the court to determine what welfare best interest decisions the court should make in terms of with whom she should live and with whom she should have contact.
The fact that that information has now been provided and Miss Jacqueline Davies has agreed to come back to this court helps your cause enormously. I had contemplated, particularly in relation to you, Mrs. Patricia Davies, whether because of the contempt that I found I should today send you to prison for a period of months. I have decided, on reflection, taking account of the previous good character of all three of you, taking into account in relation to you, Mrs. Patricia Davies and you Mr. Brian Davies, your ages, and in the case of you, Mrs. Williams, the fact that you have two young children and you are in poor health, I have decided that I shall sentence you to 12 days imprisonment each. You will serve one-half of that term. Taking account of the time that you have already served in prison since last Friday, that will have the effect, and I intend it to have the effect, that you will be immediately released from custody today.
If in the future the need ever arises to find your daughter and/or Alice I will expect you to cooperate with orders of this court and, whether out of a misguided sense of loyalty or otherwise, not to treat this court with contempt and cause yourselves, each of the three of you, to have to go through such distressing times and distressing periods in prison. You have all brought this on yourselves. I trust it will never be repeated again.
That is the judgment of the court.
I shall direct that this matter shall be adjourned and listed before me sitting at the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre on Tuesday, the 5th November at 10:30 in the morning. I shall direct that Jacqueline Davies is to attend that hearing with legal representatives as she may instruct. I shall further order that, for the avoidance of doubt, Alice Davies, the child, is to be returned to this jurisdiction by no later than midnight on the 4th November, and the issue of the attendance of the press and further reporting of this matter should be adjourned over to be considered on Tuesday, the 5th November.