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Racist woman hit with suspended prison sentence after launching racially aggravated tirade

13 October, 2021

A Salix Homes tenant who hurled racist abuse at her neighbours has been hit with a suspended prison sentence and been banned from going anywhere near their home.

We sought legal action against tenant Rita Heaton, of Rigby Street, Salford, following the racially motivated incident, which took place on 14 July this year.

A court hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre heard how Heaton, aged 65, was stood in the road outside her neighbour’s home while making threats and shouting racist abuse while the victim’s children played in their front garden.

The court heard how Heaton launched a racist tirade in the street, calling her victims “scum” and shouting they had “brought diseases” into the country. She also made threats to punch one of her neighbour’s children.

The victim said the incident left him fearing for his and his family’s safety.

The civil court granted Salix Homes a 12-month Anti-Social-Behaviour Injunction Order, with Power of Arrest, against Heaton, the terms of which prevent the defendant from threatening the family or any of their visitors with violence. The Order will remain in place until 28 July, 2022.

The incident was also reported to Greater Manchester Police and Heaton was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence. She appeared at Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court on July 21 where she pleaded guilty.

She was sentenced with a Restraining Order preventing her from going near the family or their home, which will remain in place until 20 July 2023. She was also given a Community Order, the conditions of which see her placed under a 10-week curfew, to reside at her home between the hours of 6pm and 6am. She was also ordered to pay a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

Heaton was back in court at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ on September 24 following a breach of the Restraining Order after she launched another racist tirade outside her neighbour’s house on August 24.

This time she was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and she is also required to complete 15 days of Rehabilitation Activity.

This isn’t the first time Salix Homes has sought legal action against Heaton, and the housing association had previously secured a 12-month Injunction Order following an earlier incident in 2018 when the defendant launched another racist tirade at her neighbours and slashed the children’s trampoline with a knife.

Salix Homes is now considering further legal action against Heaton.

Sue Sutton, chief executive at Salix Homes, said: “This was a particularly shocking and frightening incident, which left an innocent family scared for their safety and subject to a torrent of racial abuse.

“The safety of our residents is a priority for Salix Homes, and we will not tolerate any kind of abuse against people living in our communities.

“We welcome the court’s decision to grant an Injunction Order in this case, however due to the seriousness of the incident, we are now considering what further legal action can be taken.

“This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 9-16) and we hope this case will serve as a warning that we will not hesitate to take swift legal action where necessary, and will work closely with the police, to ensure our communities remain safe and happy places to live.”