A 78-year-old community stalwart has been found guilty of a racist attack on a traveller family.
Prominent businesswoman José 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, Market Street, Chorley, with her family for more than 60 years, appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The widow had pleaded not guilty to a racially aggravated offence of threatening, abusive or insulting language or 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 that 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 she got out of the car and said: “I’m ******* sick of you lot”.
She accused the travellers of living on an “illegal” site and stormed: “I wish you would all **** off, you dirty ******* gypos.”
Mrs Hampson, who did admit using the “f word” to the travellers, when she asked “what the “******** nuisance” was about, denied making the racist remarks.
She said she did not get out of her car and felt intimidated by the two men.
Mr Linfoot said : “A lady got out. I asked can I help her and realised it was Mrs Hampson and she started screaming and shouting. She got out of the vehicle. She started pointing at her wheel.
“She said “look at my ******* wheel. I said what’s that got to do with us?”
He said she replied: “It’s your ******* van down there. I couldn’t get past it.”
The van, though, did not belong to the travellers.
Mr Linfoot’s father-in-law Walter Bird said Mrs Hampson got out of the car and was “ranting and raving, waving her arms around with bad language”.
“For her to come out with language like that, I was really shocked,” said Mr Bird.
Mrs Hampson said: “I was shocked when Mr Linfoot came running across and said what the ******* hell are you doing on my land. He was shouting through the window, He had his father-in-law stood behind him and I was
She said she did not call the travellers “dirty ******* gypos”
“Absolutely not. I swear by God I didn’t use those words.
“I would never dream of using language like that,” she said.
“I did use the f word because I had to respond. I’m only small and they were towering over me.”
She said after the trial: “I’m absolutely stunned, but I’m considering the way forward because it’s taken a lot out of me and I know I’m perfectly innocent.
“I’ve lost a stone in weight after all this.”
Deputy District Judge James Hatton said he had taken into account that Mrs Hampson was hitherto a lady of good character.
However he said the evidence against her was “clear, cogent and believable” and “that in the heat of the moment you have lost your temper and used the language that has been described in the court today.”
Mrs Hampson was fined £690, and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £69 victim surcharge.