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Teenager must pay trans PCSO damages after shouting ‘is it a boy or a girl’ at him while he was on duty

Emma Powys Maurice January 29, 2020

Connor Freel became a PCSO to show the community that being transgender is nothing to hide (Screenshot: BBC)

A teenager who verbally abused a trans PCSO while he was on duty has been ordered to pay him £200 in compensation.

Declan Armstrong, 19, repeatedly shouted “Is it a boy or is it a girl?” at police community support officer Connor Freel as he was patrolling the streets of Mold, North Wales, in October.

The distressing incident drew attention to Freel in a busy town centre and he was reluctant to undertake foot patrols on his own afterwards.

“To have something shouted at him that had such personal connotations whilst he was on his own in the middle of a public place that was rather busy due to market day footfall did leave him vulnerable, distressed, and embarrassed,” said prosecutor Rhian Jackson.

In a statement Freel told the court of his work to raise awareness of transphobic hate crime. He said he was aware that by putting himself in the public eye he may be open to repercussions, but wanted to show more vulnerable members of the community that being transgender isn’t something to hide.

Armstrong “doesn’t hold any prejudice against anyone in society,” his defence lawyer claimed, adding that he had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and suffered from anxiety and depression.

He was convicted of using abusive or insulting words with intent to cause harassment, with prosecutors applying for a harsher sentence to reflect the hate crime aspect.

Armstrong was put under a nighttime curfew and ordered to pay £590 – including the £200 compensation to Freel.

Edward Marsh of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Comments deliberately targeting a person in this way have no place in modern society. The CPS takes any hate crime allegation extremely seriously and we will robustly prosecute cases that meet the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

More: Hate crime, Wales

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