Ockendon yob found guilty of anti-gay hate campaign

A SOUTH OCKENDON man was subjected to a “persistent and menacing” anti-gay campaign stretching over eighteen months that led to debilitating effects on the innocent victim.

Ryan Woodham, 18, Lime Close, South Ockendon pled guilty to a campaign that lasted from June 1st 2010 to June 30th, 2011.

The court at Basildon Magistrates heard that the campaign of vilification and hate began when the victim, Gareth Coombes asked a group of youths who had gathered near his flat in South Ockendon to quieten down.

From that moment, Mr Coombes was subject to taunts such as “Queer Boy and Gay Boy” every time he stepped out of his home.

The court heard that Mr Coombes became so fearful that he changed his routes to and from his home, asked friends to drop him off.

However, no matter where he went, Woodham seemed to appear. He threatened him with a bottle at South Ockendon railway station and always appeared to be near key shops in Canterbury Parade and North Road when Mr Coombes went shopping.

Woodham was not always alone in South Ockendon. Indeed, he appeared in court with his friends. However, his friends were ejected from the court due to their behaviour.

A Victim impact statement from Mr Coombes was read out in court. It said: “I have suffered from sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety. I have been left a prisoner in my own home.”

Chair of magistrates, John Riley told Woodham that the severity of the sentence was limited as a seventeen-year-old had already been sentenced to a nine month rehabilitation order.

Woodham was given a supervision order for eighteen months, ordered to do two hundred hours unpaid leave and a restraining order imposed.

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