Of statutory defences and bottles of urine

An appeal against conviction on an illegal eviction case. We didn’t report it at the time, but in R v Jay Allen & Razwan Mohammed, in Sheffield County Court, September 2012, Jay Allen was convicted of illegal eviction under section 1(3A) Protection from Eviction Act 1977. A newspaper report is here.

In short, the tenant, who was in rent arrears, was threatened. The altercation was partly recorded by the tenant. An extract runs:

JA – “Right, get your stuff.  I want you to leave, go.”

T – “You can’t just kick me out on the street.”

JA – “I am. I am doing.”

T – “It’s against the law that (unclear).

JA – “Do I look like I care?”

Sounds on phone

JA – “You can do it this way or you can do it the hard way.  It’s up to you.”

The tenant was then forced out of the property, without his shoes and without his belongings, by Razwan Mohammed, on Jay Allen’s direction. Jay Allen then threw the tenant’s shoes at him, hitting him. The tenant was subsequently let back in. Sheffield City Council prosecuted.

Jay Allen was sentenced to 9 months custodial sentence and costs of £5,755. Razwan Mohammed sentenced to 6 months prison, suspended, and a curfew and tag.

Jay Allen appealed against conviction. There were 5 grounds, only one of which was given permission. At the trial, there was evidence that during the threatening conversation in the flat, and while telling the tenant to pack up his belongings and leave, Jay Allen had found some bottles in the tenant’s wardrobe, which contained urine. At trial, the Judge had refused to allow the jury to consider whether the statutory defence in s.1(3B) PEA 1977 applied after Jay Allen had found the bottles. Jay Allen argued that the Judge should have allowed the jury to consider whether the statutory defence in s.1 (3B) applied to Allen’s acts after the discovery of the bottle(s) of urine.

S.1(3B) provides

A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (3A) above if he proves that he had reasonable grounds for doing the acts or withdrawing or withholding the services in question.

At hearing on 17 April 2013, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal. The Judge below had been right to withdraw the statutory defence in respect of the discovery of the bottles of urine because Mr. Allen had only raised it in evidence to justify his decision not to allow the tenant back into the property after the tenant had been removed from the address.  This was after the acts asserted by the prosecution as comprising the harassment of the tenant.   The Court declined to go any further into the question of what might be a reasonable ground, but endorsed the view of the Judge below that Jay Allen’s other behaviour towards the tenant could not be supported by reasonable grounds.

Costs of £2,550 against Jay Allen.

It is worth noting that Jay Allen was the director of a property company with 7 properties at the time of the trial. Whether he still is, we don’t know.

Posted in Assured Shorthold tenancy, FLW case note, Housing law - All, Unlawful eviction and harassment.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +

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