A strange case of bingo bullying was taken to court in Darlington, County Durham this week, and resulted in one unhappy player almost being sent to prison for her actions.
In a sad turn of events, Judith Mann (52) and Christine Priestley (60), who had become friends whilst playing at their local bingo club, spectacularly fell out after Ms. Priestley accused Ms. Mann of harassment.
Having once regularly sat together to enjoy their favourite pastime, an incident took place in March 2011, which soured the friendship forever. An episode occurred which resulted in Ms. Mann being banned from the Gala Bingo venue, and as a result she blamed Ms. Priestley.
The prosecutor, Blair Martin, told the court that Mann went on to repeatedly harass both Priestley and her elderly mother during June and July 2011. Despite Mann being given a harassment warning in June, the verbal abuse continued. It is alleged that Mann confronted the pair on June 22nd 2011, claiming that “your daughter slashed my tyres on my mobility scooter.” On a separate occasion (presumably having found herself some new tyres), Mann chased Priestley and her mum on her scooter, whilst shouting insults and calling her “a lying bag.”
Ms. Priestley addressed the court, telling them that she found this type of threatening behaviour completely “unacceptable,” and that as a result, the stress was making her ill and causing her to lose weight. Priestley is quoted as saying, “I have done nothing to deserve this. I want no contact [with her] whatsoever.”
As a mitigating factor, Ms. Mann’s lawyers stated that their client suffered from severe health problems, including epilepsy, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and had an around-the-clock carer.
This week, Mann appeared in court to be sentenced, where she was found guilty of harassment without violence. The presiding judge ordered her to pay £100 in compensation to Ms. Priestley and gave her a conditional discharge. The Chairman of the bench, Thomas Marley, added that although it was an unusual and nasty case, it “would be impossible” to issue and enforce a restraining order on Ms. Mann “due to her situation.”
We want to know what you think about this story – do you think more could’ve been done to end this case of harassment earlier? If so, do you think Gala Bingo or the Police should have done more to help? Most importantly, do you think Ms. Mann’s punishment was severe enough, or should more be done to support people suffering from mental illnesses?