A 78-year-old community stalwart was found guilty of a racist attack on a traveller family when she appeared in court.
A court heard prominent businesswoman Josie Hampson flew into a rage at the travellers who live in an encampment on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, near her home.
The former school teacher and governor, who has run Hampson’s Toymaster in Chorley, with her family for more than 60 years, appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
She had pleaded not guilty to a racially aggravated offence of threatening, abusive or insulting language or behaviour or disorderly behaviour.
The charge followed an incident on April 18 this year when Mrs Hampson was driving home from work at around 4pm.
A van was blocking her way on a narrow, single track lane, close to where the travellers - the Linfoot family - live.
She reversed her blue Jaguar saloon through gates partly onto the travellers’ land to turn around and go back to work.
The court heard when Mr Michael Linfoot and his father-in-law approached the car, Mrs Hampson, who had scraped the bumper of her vehicle on a wall, launched her attack on them.
Mr Linfoot told the court he said to Mrs Hampson that the van did not belong to them.
He said Mrs Hampson got out of the car and said in her tirade: I’m ******* sick of you lot. I wish you would **** off you dirty ******* gypises.”
Mrs Hampson, who admitted swearing at the gypsies, denied making the racist remarks.
She said she did not get out of her car and felt intimidated by the two men.
She told the court: “I swear by god I didn’t use those words.”
But Deputy District Judge James Hatton found her guilty. She was fined £690 and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £69 victim surcharge.
After the trial, Mrs Hampson, who was pushed into court in a wheelchair by her daughter following a hip replacement, said; “I’m absolutely stunned, but I’m considering the way forward because it’s taken a lot out of me and I know perfectly well I’m innocent.”