PRISON sentences still hang over the heads of four travellers in spite of a High Court judge s decision yesterday not to jail them immediately. The four had admitted contempt of court after breaching orders to stop using land at Thrapston Road, Catworth,
PRISON sentences still hang over the heads of four travellers in spite of a High Court judge's decision yesterday not to jail them immediately.
The four had admitted contempt of court after breaching orders to stop using land at Thrapston Road, Catworth, where they planned to set up home without planning consent.
Their planning application for change of use to a Gypsy caravan site and associated buildings has now been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council and will be considered by its development control panel in due course, chief executive David Monks told The Hunts Post after the case.
Thomas and Peter Gaskin, William Stubley and Wayne Buckley all received suspended jail sentences from Mr Justice Ramsey, who said all of them had sought in different ways to undermine the court order, made on August 3 and confirmed by the court a week later, by pressing ahead with the unauthorised development.
Both Gaskins received sentences of three months' imprisonment, Stubley one month and Buckley two weeks. All were suspended for two years or until they are granted planning permission to live on the land, which they own.
The four men had been ordered to leave the plot and cease any residential development or storage of vehicles.
Both Gaskins and Stubley continued to live there, and Buckley allowed his former girlfriend to stay there with their three children. Both Gaskins admitted their part in laying a hardcore surface, which Stubley denied, although he agreed he continued to live on the land.
Buckley, whose permanent address is in Suffolk, admitted that he had stayed there on several occasions after the order was made.
All four argued that all the requirements of the order had now been complied with, all vehicles and hardcore had been removed, so prison sentences were unnecessary.
The judge said: "In my judgment, a custodial term is still an appropriate punishment, given the seriousness of the conduct in breaching the first and second injunctions. But I consider that, on balance, I can suspend the sentences. That, in my judgment, provides a proper punishment in this case."
Mr Monks said: "What the judge has done is a fair outcome. It shows he is supporting the council in taking firm action against people who defy the planning system and the laws of this country. He congratulated the council on our swift action in carrying out our duty.