A Worthing man has been found guilty of a transphobic public order offence after targeting his victim for more than two years.
Edward Mills, 21, of Russell Close, appeared before Worthing Magistrates on January 22 charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
He was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work as well as paying a total of £835, which includes £500 compensation to his victim, Lucy Nelson.
Mills was arrested following an allegation that he had verbally abused Lucy in Sheridan Road, Worthing, on July 7 last year.
Lucy explained to the court how he had engaged in similar behaviour towards her on around a dozen occasions for approximately two-and-a-half years.
She said: “The hardest thing was getting over my mistrust of the police and actually contacting them over the matter.
“The abuse had all got too much. I just wanted it all to stop so I could walk down the street without fear of being abused, for just living my life. I was surprised by how seriously the matter was taken, not just by the police, but by the courts.
“I was taken seriously throughout and now feel more confident in reporting matters to the police; I also feel the courts will hand down appropriate sentences. It was difficult, but I was given support throughout to see the process through to the end.
“I can now walk down the street, free from fear, and get on with my life.”
Sergeant Peter Allan, Sussex Police’s hate crime sergeant and trans equality advocate, said: “I am pleased that Mills has been convicted of this offence against Lucy and that the court imposed an increased sentence because of the transphobic nature of the offence.
“This sentence, which included the imposing of a restraining order against Mills, sends out a clear signal that we will take a robust approach against those who perpetrate hate crime.
“We will always be compassionate and professional when dealing with victims, some of whom have taken the brave step to report the prejudice and hostility they have suffered and have followed that through to a court case.
“I wish to applaud Lucy’s bravery for reporting the incident and supporting a prosecution, and hope that her positive experience will encourage other victims to report hate crime. Not all victims want their case to go to court, some may prefer a restorative outcome. We will always take the victims’ wishes into consideration.
“I hope this case will encourage other victims of hate crime to report such behaviour to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. For those wishing to make a report online, use the form available on our website at http://bit.ly/1fTDYJh.”
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