A 45-year-old former Lydney town councillor who is currently undergoing kidney dialysis has avoided jail because the overstretched prison service is unlikely to be able to cope with a man in his medical situation.

Louis Arnold, of Acorn Drive, Lydney, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday (Oct 3) to breaching a five year restraining order imposed on him in September 2021 for false imprisonment of his ex-partner in their home.

Prosecutor Lucy Stoker said that on December 30th last year Arnold visited a mutual friend of his former partner with several wrapped presents and cards that he asked the friend to pass on to the woman and her child - whom he is prevented by court order from contacting.

The friend arranged to hand over the items the next day - but despite Arnold using a go-between he was still in breach of the restraining order so she contacted the police.

Ms Stoker said that the seasonal gifts were not sent maliciously and were not unpleasant in nature but were nevertheless against the terms of his restraining order not to contact his former partner by any means.

The contact caused the woman significant distress because of the control Arnold had exerted over their lives previously, which is why she called the police, said the prosecutor.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC observed: “This shows a complete lack of understanding to what he’s done. It appears to have been committed within four months of the commencement of the restraining order. “

Sarah Jenkins, defending, said: “Arnold had sought advice from social services and it was their understanding that no formal arrangement was in place for the child and suggested that he involves a third party, a family friend to deliver the card and presents.

“Arnold was acting in the spirt of what he was told, even if this was incorrect. He also sent a letter stating that the family pet had to be put down and he thought the presents would make the news more palatable. The child accepted the gifts in the manner intended.

“Arnold’s life is effectively on hold as he has to have dialysis three times a week. He is undergoing an investigation for the possibility of a kidney transplant, but in the light of other medical issues this is problematical.”

Judge Lawrie told Arnold: “I accept your intention was meant to be benevolent, however it was thoughtless because of the terms of the restraining order and this caused the recipient to become concerned.

“However, I am pretty certain your health condition could not be properly managed in prison and if it were to be the case it would put an enormous strain on resources if I sent you into custody.

“Under the circumstances, a 12-month community order is more appropriate with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days. You will also pay a nominal fine of £50 and a mandatory surcharge of £95. I hope you get your health sorted out as soon as possible.”

Arnold was elected to Lydney Town Council as a Labour candidate in May 2019 and served for approximately two years.