22 May 2022

'Racism will not be tolerated by the courts' – says Derry judge

“Racism will not be tolerated by the courts,” a judge at Derry Magistrates Court has said after she convicted a local woman of calling a Somalia woman “a black b-----d.”


Bishop's Street Courthouse

“Racism will not be tolerated by the courts,” a judge at Derry Magistrates Court has said after she convicted a local woman of calling a Somalia woman “a black b-----d.”
Toni Jacqueline Houston (30), from Clon Elagh in the Skeoge area of the city, denied a charge of disorderly behaviour on 29 August last year.
The court heard from the injured party who said she was in her home at around 5.30pm and looked out and saw her son fighting with another child in a local play park.
She told the court she went out and as she was crossing the road the defendant shouted the insult towards her.
The witness said she was “very upset” and went home and called the police.
Defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, asked the age of the child involved and was told he was now 12. The solicitor put it to her that there were no remarks passed at all but she said she clearly heard the words “black b------d.”
She said she knew Houston as she was a neighbour. The woman maintained she was telling the truth as her religion forbid her from telling a lie.
The woman's partner gave evidence and said he stood at the door while his wife went to the play park.
He said he clearly heard the words “black b------d” shouted.
Under cross-examination, the witness said there seemed to some sort of argument with the neighbours.
Giving evidence, Houston said she had been at home with her baby when her niece came in and said her son was fighting with the couple's son in the park.
She said she finished changing the baby and went up to the corner and got her son. She told the court she asked was he okay and he said he was so she went home. She denied anything had occurred between herself and the other woman and described the accusation as “ridiculous.”
Under cross-examination, the defendant said she had not seen the other child at all. She said that the couple's child was almost three years older than her son but added that she did not get involved with parents as “children fight.”
A prosecution solicitor asked her why would the couple make these allegations against her if they weren't true and she replied “they needed a new home” and added “they did get moved.”
It was suggested to her “so you are just collateral damage in all of this” and she answered she was.
Houston's niece gave evidence that she had gone to get the defendant when the children were fighting. She said she never heard any remarks being made.
District Judge Oonagh Mullan said the case came down to credibility and said she found the injured party to be more credible than Houston.She convicted Houston of the disorderly behaviour and added that she wanted a pre-sentence report as it was “a racist comment.”
The case was adjourned until 20 December for sentence.

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