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Ipswich: Building worker convicted of threatening behaviour towards transsexual

10:11 02 July 2012

Ipswich Magistrates

Ipswich Magistrates' Court

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A BUILDING worker has been convicted of threatening behaviour towards a transsexual in Suffolk’s first successful transphobic hate crime prosecution.

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Today, Thomas Sawyer’s defiant victim Julia Ford told how the abuse she suffered from others as a result of police getting involved in the case drove her to the brink of despair.

Sawyer, of Wellington Street, Ipswich, pleaded guilty before the town’s magistrates to two charges of threatening behaviour towards Miss Ford. However, there was no suggestion Sawyer was involved in the other matters alleged by Miss Ford, who lived in the same block of flats.

The 54-year-old said people would shout abuse and physically block her, leaving her fearing for her safety.

As a result Miss Ford suffered drastic weight loss and police felt compelled to move her from her home.

She said: “I felt it was destroying my soul. I turned from the happy, bubbly person I was to this gibbering wreck when police came and rescued me from my flat.

“I was just completely drained and exhausted. I lost a stone in weight. I was sleeping with the light on. I barricaded my door at night. I felt I couldn’t get out.

“I was trapped.”

During Sawyer’s case, prosecutor Lucy Miller said Miss Ford was disturbed by noise from the flats above hers at around 4am on February 16. Around 9.20am she went into the hallway with a camera to record the noise as she was going to make a complaint to environmental health officers.

Miss Ford walked up the stairs and saw Sawyer apparently breaking wood with a hammer.

He became annoyed and started threatening her, calling her a ‘tranny’ and swearing.

Sawyer then shouted obscenities through her door.

The court heard that after being arrested he referred to Miss Ford as ‘it’ and a ‘faggot’.”

On February 24, at around 7.30pm, Miss Ford heard banging again, followed by loud footsteps and a hooting noise.

When she peered through the peephole she saw a dark figure telling her she was going to die and hurling more abuse. As a result Sawyer was arrested again.

John Hughes, mitigating, said Sawyer now realised he was in the wrong, but had originally become annoyed as he thought Miss Ford was filming him.

Magistrates ordered Sawyer to pay a total of £800 in fines and costs. He was also given a 12-month restraining order preventing him from contacting Miss Ford.

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