A woman has been fined for hurling homophobic abuse at her neighbour’s son in a bitter row, calling him a “fat, dirty gay”.
Sara Cockayne of Warndon, Worcester, appeared before magistrates on Monday (5 July) where she admitted to committing a section five public order offence on 4 July last year.
The 47-year-old accepted using threatening or abusive words to describe her neighbour’s son, Emmanuel Thomas, who had been visiting his mother at a block of flats she lived in.
“I’m not having a fat gay look at me,” Cockayne was heard to say in an argument, according to Worcester News. She then repeated the insult, this time adding the word “dirty”.
“There are some bad feelings between the neighbours,” said prosecutor Sarah Hurd, reportedly stemming from discussion between Cockayne and Thomas’ mother about feeding a cat.
The court heard that the anti-gay slur was an example of threatening language likely to “cause harassment alarm or distress,” also classified as “disorderly behaviour”.
“It’s insulting and of course it’s homophobic,” Hurd said. “This is not a very pleasant thing to have happened to Mr Thomas. He says he was extremely distressed.”
In a victim personal statement, Thomas said the incident had made him think about what he wore and the way he presented himself.
“I have experienced panic attacks, especially when visiting my mum in her flat,” he said. He also added that he had trouble sleeping after the incident.
Jas Dhaliwal, defending, said the incident only lasted 10 seconds and Cockayne was standing about 20 metres away.
“It wasn’t one of those incidents where someone has got into another person’s face,” he said. “My client is a woman of previous good character with no convictions, cautions or reprimands recorded against her.”
He noted that Cockayne is a disabled woman with a number of health issues, including a serious head injury, epilepsy and asthma. He said she had twice been in a coma and was receiving a £207 fortnightly Employment Support Allowance.
“She is very nervous to be here” he said, describing how she suffered a seizure at the last hearing “because of the stress of these proceedings”.
Magistrates fined Cockayne £270, ordered her to pay £50 in compensation to Thomas and a £34 victim surcharge.
They did not give her the full credit requested for her guilty plea, noting that she’d originally described the case against her as “a malicious allegation”.