Thursday, September 14, 2006


The victim is always wrong: Young thugs terrorised this woman for two years, trampling her garden and kicking footballs against her house. She shouted at them to leave her alone. And who do you think the police charged? Her.. for swearing

A mother of two has been fined for swearing at yobs who made her life a misery. For more than two years a group of about 15 teenage thugs have hounded Donna Appleyard, 32, subjecting her to relentless abuse, threats and vandalism. But when she finally snapped over the constant intimidation and swore at one of the bullies, she was arrested and fined. And if she doesn't pay up, Donna could face a spell in prison.

She said yesterday: "I am absolutely furious that I have been made out to be the criminal when all I have ever wanted to do is live in peace and quiet." Almost every day since 2004 Donna and her neighbours in Knottingley, West Yorks, have had to endure the gang jumping fences, trampling gardens, shouting, swearing, kicking footballs against windows and hanging around their street into the night. The three-bed semi she shares with partner Colin Lamb, 34, and her kids James, 14, and Holly, 12, was such a relentless target that on March 30 she lost her temper and swore at one tormentor.

And two weeks later police called at her home saying a 13-year-old had made a complaint. She was handed an 80 pound fixed penalty notice but refused to pay and was taken to court last month - only for magistrates to up the sum to 120 pounds which Donna must now pay or face a jail term. She said: "I was at the end of my tether and admit I swore at one of them. But that's nothing compared to what my neighbours and I have suffered."

Donna claims she made countless complaints to police about the gang but nothing was done. She said: "Officers told me I'd scared children. Well, what do they think has been happening to us for the past year? I am livid. "These kids have made me, my family and my neighbours feel like prisoners in our own homes. "They are intimidating and aggressive and make our lives hell. All I did was swear at them and I am in trouble with the law. "What about everything they have done to us? I can't believe the police have arrested me and left them to run wild."

Incensed neighbours Shirley and George Wardle have offered to contribute half to Donna's fine. Shirley, 69, said: "It's deplorable. Whoever charged her wants to come and live here a while."

But Donna is so enraged by how she has been treated that she is still refusing to pay the penalty. She said: "I don't see why I should lose money when all I have done is stick up for my family. "I've been told that if I don't settle I could go to prison. But I won't pay because, in my eyes, I haven't done anything wrong."

Sgt Neil Haley, of the local neighbourhood policing team said: "We appreciate that anti-social behaviour can be frustrating. "But people should not take the law into their own hands."


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