When news happens, text LT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Woman attacked nelson man after mistaking him for paedophile
12:00pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
A WOMAN who attacked an innocent man after a bogus website claimed he was a paedophile has been jailed.
Rachel Ashworth, 28, was part of a 'vigilante' gang who launched a violent assault on the epileptic victim in his own home.
She burst into the man's Nelson house with two other men before kicking and punching the victim and smashing a trophy over his head, leaving him unconscious.
He was so terrified and traumatised by his horrific ordeal, he has moved from the area, Burnley Crown Court heard.
The hearing was told the victim wasn't, and never had been, a sex offender, but had been wrongly labelled an 'active predator' on a fraudulent website called Predators Watch. Police said the website had now been shut down.
After her arrest, Ashworth claimed to police that he was a paedophile and it was 'all over the internet.'
She boasted on Facebook that she had 'defo found the right one,' that his face would be a mess, she had enjoyed the violence and "I even jumped on his head myself."
She declared:" Any paedophile deserves hanging."
The victim, who was kept in hospital a day, suffered a broken rib, cuts and bruises.
Ashworth, who is now 15 weeks pregnant with her first child, had earlier admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and had been committed for sentence by Pennine magistrates.
The defendant, of Hall Street, Colne, had no previous convictions. Kimberley Obrusik, prosecuting, told the court the victim was at his home on June 16 when he heard banging on the door about 9.30am.
He opened it and saw the defendant, who he had known for about a month and two unidentified men.
The defendant shouted 'You are a paedophile' before he was punched by one of the men and fell backwards. All three began kicking and punching him on the floor.
He managed to get up, was hit over the head with a trophy and was bleeding from a one centimetre cut.
All the gang then threw ornaments at him and carried on kicking and punching him.
The prosecutor said: "He must have become unconscious as the next thing he was aware of was hearing a car speeding away. He called the police and ambulance and was kept in hospital for 24 hours. "
He suffers from epilepsy and was vulnerable. Since the assault, there have been significant complications."
She said the defendant had found the complainant's details on a website called Predators Watch.
The fraudulent website would put details on and want money for them to be removed.
The prosecutor said Ashworth was arrested after the Facebook message. She said she met the victim about a month before and didn't trust him. She alleged he had threatened to shoot her during the incident and she had thrown an ornament at his head.
Kristian Cavanagh, for Ashworth, said she was studying for a diploma in beauty therapy.
The solicitor continued:" The defendant knows this is a very serious offence. She recognises that it was a stupid thing to do, including the entry on Facebook.
She took it off within an hour and has since left Facebook."
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said Ashworth had not named the other two involved in the attack and they had not been caught and arrested.
The judge said: "It was vigilantism, wrongly. You identified this entirely innocent man.
He's now seeking help with mental issues, suffers panic attacks, his epilepsy has been made worse and he's moved out of the area because he was afraid to stay where he was."
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “The victim in this case, who is completely innocent, has been wrongly identified through a bogus website which fortunately has now been taken down.
“This crime has had a dramatic impact on the victim to the extent that he has decided to leave the area, through no fault of his own.
“We’d urge people not to take the law into their own hands."