A MAN found guilty of racially aggravated harassment after calling his neighbours “Scottish c****” had claimed he was shouting at Celtic matches on the TV.
Tameside Magistrates Court heard how James Rattigan, 67, had threatened to kill his Scottish neighbours, the McLaughlin family, after they parked outside his house on their terraced street in Failsworth, Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Prosecutor Risha Seth said that after the incident, Mr Rattigan returned home late at night from a pub and “started shouting threats and verbal abuse directed at the family”.
“He said ‘you Scottish c**** I’m going to kill you, I’m going to jump over the fence now, come on I’m going to burn you all,” added Ms Seth.
However Mr Rattigan’s lawyer claimed references to “Scottish c****” related to him watching Celtic matches on TV.
Saul Comish said: “Mr Rattigan doesn't accept his guilt. He would say the racially aggravated part of the offence, when he referred to people being Scottish, he would say he was watching TV and watching Celtic.”
The court heard how, on another occasion, an axe-wielding Mr Rattigan threatened to kill neighbour Kenny McLaughlin, who is originally from Renfrewshire.
Mr McLaughlin’s daughter Ashleigh saw Mr Rattigan standing next to her father’s car with what she thought was a hammer.
She called out her father and Mr Rattigan started to approach him, waving the object around, according to Ms Seth.
She told the court: “The defendant then holds the item up and shouts 'I'm going to f****** kill you’.
“Kenneth was able to take a photograph of the defendant holding the item which was in fact an axe. “
The family was also woken by the fire brigade at 2am on January 30 after Mr Rattigan called 999 claiming he could smell burning.
Mr Rattigan was found guilty of using abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence, and racially aggravated harassment.
He was given 14 weeks’ jail, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £215 in costs and surcharges.
A restraining order was also imposed, banning him from contacting the McLaughlin family.
Passing sentence, JP Dianne Nuttall told Rattigan: "These are so serious only custody could be justified due to the ongoing nature of the offences, the place being at the victims' home, the racial abuse, the ongoing affect on the victims and the use of a weapon."