A queer couple were left “violated and extremely angry” after a man banged on their door during the night to hurl homophobic abuse.
Jason Smith and Stephen Lanza, who together run the clothing store Mosaic Boutique in Staffordshire, England, reported Alex Johnson to the authorities for, they claimed, breaching lockdown restrictions in February.
But the accusation deeply angered Johnson, magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard according to StokeonTrentLive. With the 36-year-old visiting the pair at their property in Sheep Market, Leek, and shouting homophobic slurs at them, prosecutors said.
The 1 February incident left the couple feeling “violated and extremely angry”, they said.
“Since this incident, every day, I’ve felt stressed,” Smith said in a statement to the court.
“I’m constantly checking my surroundings. I feel on edge all the time.”
Man who hurled abuse at gay couple ‘is not a homophobic person’, says defence
“Just before midnight, the defendant was leaving a property in Sheepmarket and knocked on the back door of the injured parties’ address,” prosecutor Emma Thompson explained.
“They heard knocking and heard a person shouting: ‘Gay ********’.
“Mr Smith went to the front of the address because he was so shocked and angry.
“He saw two men with dogs. Johnson placed a crate of beer on the floor and shouted towards Mr Smith.”
Johnson, based in the Belle Vue neighbourhood, then walked towards Smith as he continued his verbal onslaught.
“This defendant has longstanding mental health difficulties,” explained mitigator Kate Preston.
“He had formed a support bubble with another single male who lives in a nearby flat.
“Police had attended that friend’s property on four or five occasions about alleged Covid breaches, reported by the two injured parties.
“When police attended, they were satisfied the defendant and his friend were doing nothing wrong.
“He accepts that, because of these complaints, he felt anger towards the injured parties and he’s taken out that frustration. He would not describe himself as a homophobic person.
“He is not someone who would ordinarily behave in this way.
“He apologised in an interview and offered to write a letter of apology. He is keen to let these gentleman know he was angry on that night, but does not harbour any longstanding ill-feeling towards them.”
Johnson pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Magistrates, awaiting recommendations from the Probation Service, adjourned the session. He will be sentenced 24 April.