A man who told a District Judge to "get fucked" has been given a suspended prison sentence for contempt of court.
Dave Duggan was taking part in a case management hearing by telephone when he let loose on DJ Keating, telling her, "Who the fuck do you think you are speaking to me like that?" after she made her introductory comments.
He repeatedly interrupted and talked over the judge, and when she asked, "Will you focus for one minute on what I am saying?", replied, "No. You listen to me, what I'm saying for one minute, mate".
The judge put him on mute so she could give her case directions uninterrupted, but when she unsilenced Duggan he said, "Get fucked...I'm done with this me, mate".
Duggan told the hearing that he had been recording proceedings and was going to put it "in public". When District Judge Keating warned him that doing so would be a contempt of court, Duggan replied, "Mate, I'm not bothered what you say".
DJ Keating said she was left "very shaken" by Duggan's conduct, and expressed a concern that he was using the court environment "to air his grievances and to expose a vulnerable applicant to further unacceptable conduct". The proceedings had been brought against Duggan by a former partner who had custody of their child, and during the hearing he spoke disparagingly of her as "still fucking doing shit".
In Duggan's contempt hearing, the rage-prone father told Mr Justice Cobb his "head was gone" and that he was "disgusted" by his behaviour.
In an apology he emailed to DJ Keating, Duggan vowed to do better and expressed his hope that "when I return to Durham family court, it is you whom is the judge so I can show and prove this to you".
Duggan said he had mental health issues and remarked that a number of charities had let him down. "I'm sorry for swearing but this is how I am. I can't help how I am", he said, adding, "if I could I wouldn't even be speaking like this? I'd be speaking nicely".
Sentencing Duggan to 14 days in prison for each of four proven allegations of contempt, Justice Cobb suspended the sentence on the basis of Duggan's mental health and in light of his admission that his behaviour was "vile" and "disgusting".
Justice Cobb said, "While Judges have a degree of tolerance towards emotional displays of frustration or anger in court, and are aware of the problem of stress for parties in family (and other) proceedings, there is no excuse for insulting a judge or repeatedly disrupting a court hearing with outbursts of abuse".
He said judges are entitled to undertake their work "without being subjected to abuse either in or out of the court room", which has been an issue. Mr Justice Mostyn endured horrible threats from a litigant in person, while three years ago a creepy couple's harassment of a family judge got so bad she installed a panic button.