A TOWN councillor and her daughter went on trial today (Thursday, February 14) charged with harassing a neighbour.
Councillor Irene Hewitson, 55, of Rowan Place, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, and her daughter Jenna Eastland, 26, are accused of being threatening and abusive towards Mary-Jane Kelly, another resident of the street, between August 17 and September 21 last year.
Mrs Hewitson, an independent member of Great Aycliffe Town Council, and Miss Eastland deny the charge.
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At a trial at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court Ms Kelly claimed she had been harassed by the councillor and her family on a daily basis for almost ten months.
She frequently broke down in tears as she described three incidents on August 18, September 8 and September 18, where Miss Eastland, who lives nearby at Beechfield, Newton Aycliffe, threatened to “smash her f****** face in,” while Mrs Hewitson watched on “laughing and smirking.”
The neighbour also claimed Mrs Hewitson had encouraged local children to taunt her.
Two of the alleged incidents are said to have occurred in Rowan Place and the third took place at a taxi rank in the town centre.
Magistrates heard how there was an ongoing dispute in Rowan Place, which was sparked by Ms Kelly’s granddaughter being bitten by another resident's dog.
Ben Pegman, representing Miss Eastman, said his client had not made the remarks and highlighted how Ms Kelly herself had been served a harassment warning and had been banned from posting comments on Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Police Team’s Facebook page.
He said it was “ludicrous” for her to describe herself as a victim, adding: “The problems in the street are centred around you. You are the cause of the problems.”
Ms Kelly admitted she was angry when her granddaughter was bitten.
“At first, when they shouted at me I argued back,” she said. “I would tell them to get lost. I am not foul mouthed like them.
“The difference is I stopped.”
Stephen Andrews, representing Mrs Hewitson, questioned how laughing could be seen as threatening and abusive.
“Mrs Hewitson wasn’t laughing at anyone,” he said. “She wasn’t encouraging children.
"It is just another incident whereby you have used an opportunity presented to you by virtue of children calling you names to point the finger.”
The trial continues.