A woman from Colne has been jailed for 16 months for her part in a group vigilante attack on an innocent man after a website claimed he was a paedophile.
Rachel Ashworth (28), of Hall Street, Colne, had no previous convictions before the gang attack in which an epilepsy sufferer was left unconscious.
Burnley Crown Court heard the man had moved out of the area since the incident in which he suffered a broken rib and cut to the head.
Miss Kimberley Obrusik (prosecuting) said Ashworth and two men had gone to the victim’s house on June 16th and forced their way in after the home owner answered to banging on the door.
Burnley Crown Court was told the victim was punched by the men before all three began kicking and punching him on the floor.
Miss Obrusik said Ashworth hit the victim over the head with a trophy causing a 1cm cut and bleeding before all three began throwing ornaments at the man.
The court was told the man must have fallen unconscious, as the next thing he heard was the car speeding away. The man was hospitalised but discharged 24 hours later.
Burnley Crown Court was told the victim was not and had never been a sex offender but had been branded as an active predator on a website called Predator Watch.
The website would have people’s details and would want money for them to be removed.
Miss Obrusik told the court the man was vulnerable and had since suffered with complications.
After the attack, the court heard Ashworth posted Facebook messages boasting that she had “defo got the right one” and that his “face would be a mess”.
Ashworth told police the man was a “paedo” and she would prove it. She said she had met the man one month earlier and hadn’t trusted him from the beginning.
Miss Obrusik told the court that Ashworth also claimed the man had threatened to shoot her in the incident and that she threw an ornament at his head.
Kristian Cavanagh (defending) said Ashworth actions had every aggravating feature in the book. He said the defendant was aware it was a “very serious offence” and told the court Ashworth was 15 weeks pregnant and was studying for a diploma in a beauty course.
He added Ashworth “recognises it was a stupid thing to do” and that she was “disgusted with herself” in the way she acted and the bravado she showed afterwards.
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said it was vigilantism on an entirely innocent man who was seeking help for mental issues, his epilepsy had worsened, he was suffering panic attacks and had moved out of the area.
Judge Lunt added there couldn’t possible be any alternative to a prison sentence and said Ashworth had shown no remorse whatsoever in the Facebook messages.