A married couple in County Durham shouted homophobic abuse at a neighbour, calling him “disgusting,” and threatened to get their son to “sort him out” after frustrations over noise at a late night party.
Keith Pounder, 60, of Darlington, and his 54-year-old wife Mary, admitted using threatening, abusive, or insulting words to cause harassment, alarm, or distress when they appeared at Darlington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
The Northern Echo reports they had told their neighbour he was “disgusting” and threatened to get their son to “sort him out” during an argument about noise from a party in August.
Prosecutor Joanne Hesse said the victim was subjected to abuse and swearing from the defendants on several occasions after moving into the same block of flats earlier in the year.
She said: “On August 30, (the victim) had two friends over and they heard shouting outside. They have gone outside and the defendants called him further homophobic names and said he was disgusting.
“They threatened him and the victim said he thought he was going to be assaulted.”
Some of the insults were recorded on a mobile phone, said Mrs Hesse.
Jonathan Harley, mitigating, told the court the couple had become increasingly frustrated over their neighbours regular socialising and late-night partying.
He said: “They acknowledge that their behaviour was completely and utterly unacceptable.
“There is no two ways about it that, irrespective of the background circumstances, threatening and abusing anybody is unacceptable, even more so when it is tainted by homophobic abuse.”
Mr Harley added: “While they said and did things which they will regret until their dying days, these are not homophobic people, they have friends that are homosexual.
“The fact that they made these references was born not out of homophobia, but a frustration that had been building over a few months.”
Magistrates placed a restraining order which bans the couple from further contacting the victim.
The defendants were each given an 18-month conditional discharge and both were ordered to pay compensation of £50 – £35 for costs and a £15 victim surcharge.