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Couple shouted homophobic abuse at neighbour
A MARRIED couple shouted homophobic abuse at a neighbour after frustrations over noise and late-night partying came to a head, a court was told.
Keith Pounder, 60, of High Northgate, Darlington, and his 54-year-old wife Mary, told their neighbour he was "disgusting" and threatened to get their son to "sort him out" during a tirade in August.
Both admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words to cause harassment, alarm or distress when they appeared at Darlington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (September 12).
Prosecutor Joanne Hesse said the victim had been subject 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 disgruntled at their neighbours regular socialising until the early hours and what they felt was excessively loud music.
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.”
He added that the pair lived a law-abiding and peaceful existence and were both of good character although Mary Pounder, 54, had criminal convictions dating back many years.
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.”
He added that the pair were now seeking to resolve any neighbourly disputes through the appropriate channels, rather than take matters into their own hands.
Magistrates imposed a restraining order banning the Pounders from contacting the victim.
The defendants were also each given an 18-month conditional discharge and both were ordered to pay compensation of £50, £35 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.