Joseph Gallagher, 84, and Dorothy Womersley, 71 have reported been made subject to Anti-social Behaviour Orders, which The Mirror claims makes them the oldest people subject to ASBOs in the country.
The situation appears to have arisen from a neighbours’ dispute. The police were involved and reportedly Gallagher and Womersley were warned about their behaviour. It is understood that the two continued to be “abusive, insulting and intimidating” towards the family in question.
The Council offered their assistance in resolving the matter, however that offer was refused. The pair were brought before Magistrates and an ASBO was applied for.
The courts have the power to make an ASBO on conviction but also on an application by the local council. The latter, which is what seems to have been imposed here, is commonly referred to as a ‘stand-alone’ ASBO – one not requiring a conviction. This is done ‘on complaint’ by the local council.
ASBOs are civil behaviour orders which are prohibitive in nature – they restrict certain types of behaviour. Before the Magistrates were able to impose the ASBO, it will have been necessary to show that a) the pair acted in an anti-social manner and b) an order is necessary to protect the family in question from anti-social acts.
The Mirror reported: ‘The order bars the couple from contacting the unnamed family, entering their property and throwing things’ and that the couple were told that they would go to prison if they breached the order.
Whilst breach of an ASBO is punishable by a custodial sentence of up to 5 years, sentences tend to be in the order of months rather than years.
For more detail on how ASBOs work, how they should be drafted and consequences of breaching an ASBO, click here.