Woman charged with hate crime

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On their way home from a night out a couple became involved in an incident where the female ended up being charged with a hate crime and the man had two teeth knocked out.

Ashleigh Freeburn (26), Flush Place, Lurgan, and Kevin Gerard Gerald Smyth (44), Moyraverty Meadows, Craigavon, appeared last week at the local magistrates’ court.

At a previous court they both pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful assault and disorderly behaviour on January 27 this year.

Freeburn was put on probation for six months and ordered to pay £300 compensation to the person she assaulted.

Smith was given 120 hours community service.

A public prosecutor said they were treating this as a hate crime.

The court heard that at 10pm police received a report of an ongoing disturbance in Church Place, Lurgan.

When they arrived they saw the defendants shouting in an aggressive manner at persons further up the street. Smith had a cut lip and blood smeared across his face.

He said to police that he was going to take the law into his own hands because someone had made disparaging remarks to his partner.

The injured party claimed he had been verbally abused, claimed he had been racially abused and the female had struck him a number of times on the head with her high heeled shoe.

It was claimed that Freeburn said ‘go home, go home’ which was the basis of the racist comments.

When he was interviewed Freeburn apologised and Smith denied the assault.

The case had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

Mr Peter Murphy, representing both defendants, said the last conviction against Smith was a long time ago while Freeburn had no previous convictions.

He explained that the couple had been on a night out and were returning home when a foreign national made a comment of a sexual nature about Freeburn. She remonstrated about this and was pushed.

Mr Murphy added that Smith confronted the foreign national and received a thump in the mouth and he lost two teeth.

He said that Smith was knocked to the ground and that no-one had been made amenable for this.

Mr Murphy said that when Smith got up he punched an innocent person on the shoulder. Both defendants were very remorseful at what happened.