'I don't know what I did': Woman targeted in 'flour-bombing' attack speaks out as teen found guilty of involvement
PUBLISHED: 07:54 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 14 February 2019
A 17-year-old boy has been found guilty of a public order offence after magistrates ruled he was “not a bystander” in an attack that saw a vulnerable woman pelted with flour and eggs.
Five teenage boys admitted their role in the humiliation of 49-year-old Janice Morris at an earlier hearing, and a sixth boy was found guilty of a public order offence today, Wednesday, February 13.
Ms Morris, who has not previously spoken in public about the incident in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, gave evidence at this week’s trial.
She told the court she felt “shell-shocked” after being pelted with flour and eggs then photographed cowering on a bench in a picture that was shared across the internet.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was one of four boys who posed for a photograph with Ms Morris on the bench in front of them.
The photograph prompted public outrage after it was shared online in July 2018.
Ms Morris, giving evidence in court, said: “I don’t know what I did to antagonise them.”
Magistrates were told that Ms Morris is schizophrenic and alcohol dependent.
In a video interview played to the court, she told police she had a drink of whisky, “not a lot”, then went to sit on a bench near her home “just to get out, to be outside... green space, trees”.
She said four or five boys approached her quickly, one of them who “seemed to be more of a loose cannon” spat at her and the group circled her.
“They were jumping about, laughing, goading,” she said.
The group went away briefly, then returned with flour and eggs which were thrown over her.
She said she felt “a bit shell-shocked, a bit raw” afterwards, adding she was “not as likely” to return to the park.
The 17-year-old boy denied a public order offence, admitting he posed for the photograph but stating Ms Morris was already covered in flour when he arrived.
The defendant, who was accompanied to court by his father, said he contacted police after he saw the photo on Facebook.
“At the time I thought it was funny,” he said in police interview. “I thought about it and it was wrong.”
He added: “I wasn’t involved; only in the photo.”
Presiding magistrate Sally Westwood, reading out the guilty verdict, told him: “The photo clearly indicates (the defendant) as a member of the group.
“He was not a bystander, he was smiling, pointing at Ms Morris.”
He is due to be sentenced on March 7.
A 17-year-old, 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds and 18-year-old Cohan Semple, of Bury St Edmunds, admitted a public order offence at an earlier hearing and were sentenced last year.
The four under-18s were sentenced to 12-month referral orders and Semple, who posted the photograph on his Snapchat before it was shared more widely by others, was sentenced to a year-long community order.