A MAN at the centre of an injunction by Cheshire East Council over land in Mobberley has been given a suspended prison sentence by a judge.

Appearing via videolink on Tuesday, Michael Maloney was sentenced to eight months, suspended for two years, after a three day trial back in February found him guilty of ten allegations of contempt.

High Court Judge Mark Turner said Maloney had shown 'repeated disobedience' of the court, little remorse and hoped the suspended sentence would provide him with a strong incentive to abide by the terms of the injunction.

The sentencing had been delayed for almost three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors beyond anybodies control.

Maloney and members of his family moved onto the site, off Broadoak Lane, without planning permission last August following an arson attack at their previous home four months earlier.

The council obtained an interim injunction from the High Court to prevent further work and additional caravans or materials moving onto the site.

But despite the order, work carried on and additional caravans moved onto the land.

However, the High Court in Manchester has now granted a final injunction for a period of five years, restraining further development on site and limiting the number of caravans to eight, pending the outcome of a planning appeal.

Judge Turner said: "Mr Maloney demonstrated repeated disobedience of this court.

"His breaches were calculated and planned.

"His conduct has given rise to considerable and wholly foreseeable concern and anxiety on the residents of the area in which his breaches occurred.

"I'm entirely satisfied that no sentence other than a committal to prison would be adequate.

"If Mr Maloney were to put a foot wrong over the period of suspension, not only would he face the penalties of breaching the terms of the injunction then he would also be liable to be sent to prison for an additional term immediately.

"I understand the strength of local feeling, I don't ignore it, but it may well be, upon reflection, those that live in the locality would benefit more from some confidence that Mr Maloney is under threat of a significant prison sentence if he were to breach the terms of the injunction."

Jack Smyth, counsel for Cheshire East, said the two year suspended sentence would be hanging over Maloney like the 'Sword of Damocles'.

He said: "It's not my job to get the toughest penalty possible.

"All I would say is that there would be an expectation amongst the local community that given the seriousness of the contempt standard found proven, that only immediate custody would reflect that seriousness.

"A suspended sentence would act as a Sword of Damocles hanging over him to ensure him compliance moving forward."

Maloney is currently being held in prison on an unrelated matter after the terms of his license had been revoked.

Tim Jones, representing him, said his client was the sole bread winner and not just to his wife and his four children children, but also his mother, sister and niece.

He said: "His being in prison has clearly affected his income.

"It has also impacted on his business, in which he normally employs four people."

As well as being given the suspended sentence Maloney must pay toward's the council's legal costs, with an interim payment of £25,000 due within 28 days, with the final amount owed to be determined at a later date.