King’s Lynn woman guilty of racially harassing neighbour in parking row

The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane. ENGANL00120120910143711
The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane. ENGANL00120120910143711

A woman has admitted racially harassing a neighbour in a dispute over parking on their street in North Lynn.

Gemma Rowbotham, 32, of Smith Avenue, pleaded guilty to the charge when she appeared before magistrates in Lynn on Monday.

Her husband Paul, 38, also pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage in connection with the same incident, which happened on the evening of August 16.

Fergus Harold, prosecuting, told the court the couple were unable to park outside their home when they returned to it.

He said they had been involved in a long-running dispute with the residents of a house on the opposite site of the road over parking.

But, when Paul Rowbotham went to that house to request they move their vehicle, he kicked the gate, causing the bottom hinge to become detached from the wall.

When the residents came out to inspect the damage, Gemma Rowbotham became involved in a verbal argument with them.

Mr Harold said that, during the exchange, she made remarks about “foreigners”, including: “Go back to your own country.” She also threatened to slap her neighbour.

The court also heard extracts from a personal statement made by the female victim, who said she had been prescribed sleeping medication and diagnosed with depression since the incident.

Mr Harold also requested the imposition of a restraining order against the Rowbothams because of that and other incidents.

But George Sorrell, mitigating, said he was “troubled” by the request, because no other offences had been alleged during the dispute.

The court also heard there had been no other confrontations since the incident.

Mr Sorrell said the couple, who have six children, two of whom are disabled, accepted they had acted wrongly during the incident.

But he insisted Gemma Rowbotham had not intended to behave in a racist manner.

He said: “On the spur of the moment, she said the first thing that came into her head.

“These people come from a foreign country. That shouldn’t be held against them and they know that well enough. Unfortunately, Mrs Rowbotham made that remark and she’s very sorry for it.”

Gemma Rowbotham was given an 18 month conditional discharge, increased from 12 months because of the racial aggravation, and told to pay £50 costs, plus a £20 victim surcharge.

Paul Rowbotham received a 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £50 compensation, £50 costs plus a £20 victim surcharge. No restraining order was imposed.