A landlord who harassed the American tenants of a house she owned has been fined.
Rosemary Hill, 74, of Field Road, Mildenhall, had denied harassment but following a trial in January at Ipswich Crown Court was found guilty by a jury.
She was cleared of an alternative offence of racially aggravated harassment.
The court heard how the family who moved into a property she owned in Long Road, Feltwell, had been bombarded with increasingly ‘vitriolic and personal’ comments in emails and phone calls from Hill between October 2012 and June 2013.
Hill declined to give evidence and did not call any defence witnesses during the trial.
Today Mr Recorder David Pugh, sitting at Norwich Crown Court, told Hill she must pay a £2,000 fine and contribute £2,500 towards the cost of the prosecution.
After hearing submissions from the Crown Prosecution Service, Mr Recorder Pugh also granted a restraining order which will remain in force for 10 years and prohibits Hill from engaging in further harassment.
During the trial the prosecution said that Hill may have been trying to hound the couple and their four children out of the property because she had other potential tenants willing to pay a higher rent lined up.
Giving evidence, Terri and Dwayne Scott, both US citizens, said that within a matter of weeks of moving into the house, their relationship with Hill began to deteriorate when they asked for defects with the property to be fixed.
Mrs Scott said that as correspondence between them progressed, Hill’s tone became increasingly terse, personal and offensive.
Hill had accused the family of failing to look after her property, she said.
Sgt Dwayne Scott who works as an aircraft repairer at RAF Mildenhall told the jury that phone calls from Hill became almost daily, sometimes several times a day, and included calls she made to his immediate senior officer at RAF Mildenhall to discuss what she said were problems with the tenancy.
Hill’s tone became ‘cross and judgemental’ and led to him being advised by his senior officer to find another house to live in, said Sgt Scott.
The jury were given details of an email said to have been sent by Hill to the base commander at RAF Mildenhall saying she wanted to remove the Scott family from her property and which she concluded with: “Americans cannot and will not come into my country, wreak havoc and leave with nothing happening.”
Sgt Scott told the court: “I was disgusted at that point. I couldn’t be any more disgusted or downtrodden by this woman.”
The comments about Americans had been very upsetting, said Sgt Scott. He said: “We are people too. It made me feel like a lesser person.”