Mildenhall landlord found guilty of harassing American tenants
A woman from Mildenhall has been convicted of harassing the American tenants of a house she owned.
Rosemary Hill, 74, bombarded the family with emails and phone calls containing increasingly ‘vitriolic and personal’ comments, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Hill, of Field Road, Mildenhall, declined to give evidence during her trial and called no defence witnesses.
Today (Thursday) a jury took just under three hours to find Hill unanimously guilty of harassment instead of the original charge she faced of racially aggravated harrassment alleged to have been committed between October 2012 and June 2013.
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.
During the trial, the court heard evidence from Terri and Dwayne Scott, both US citizens, who said that within a matter of weeks of moving into a house in Long Road, Feltwell, the 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 officed to find another house to live in, said Sgt Scott.
The string of emails and phone calls led to him suffering from anxiety, stress and depression, said Sgt Scott. He said his wife also became stressed and worried about going out.
Sgt Scott said: “During daytimes we wouldn’t leave the house. We started locking ourselves in.”
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.”
He said he had been summoned to the base in the middle of the night to discuss the contents of the email, bringing with him rent receipts to address payment issues raised by Hill.
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.”
A letter which appeared to have been prepared to be sent to the media and found on Hill’s computer when she was arrested claimed that US personnel in Britain were defiling cemeteries, cutting the throats of innocent animals and trashing houses, said Philip Farr, prosecuting.
Mr Farr said that hostility towards Americans appeared to be part of the motivation for Hill’s behaviour, despite her being of joint British-American parentage and married to an American.
After the jury returned the guilty verdict, Mr Recorder David Pugh told Hill that she would be sentenced next month.