Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Tram abuse woman 'mentally ill'

A woman who subjected tram passengers to a tirade of racist abuse has been bound over to keep the peace

A mother whose tirade of racist abuse at fellow passengers on a tram received millions of viewings on YouTube has been bound over to keep the peace.

A judge said that Emma West, 36, was clearly suffering from mental health problems at the time of the outburst on board the tram in Croydon, south London, and had unwittingly overdosed on the medication she took for depression.

The mother-of-two was also handed a 24-month community order for offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against her partner and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty as she appeared for sentencing at Croydon Crown Court.

The court heard witnesses described West "reeking of alcohol" when she carried out the verbal attack.

Prosecutor Julius Capon said: "She in essence persecuted a number of passengers on the tram, subjecting them to some disgusting racial abuse." He said the things she said included "you're not English", "none of you are English", "f*** off" and "get back to your own countries".

Mr Capon said many of the passengers were "upset" by West's behaviour. "Some of them described themselves as being disgusted, shocked and horrified," he said. But he added that it was not them who complained to police, rather that it came to their attention after a passenger who had filmed it posted it on the internet.

David Martin-Sperry, defending West, said the defendant's offending was out of character and she does not harbour any racist views.

The huge amount of publicity the case generated led her to attempt suicide and she had become reclusive due to the abuse she received when she left the house, he said. It also led her to receive flowers and messages of support from far right supporters. Some have even sent her cheques.

On the day of the incident, in late 2011, she had seen her psychiatrist who increased her dose of citalopram, the court was told.

After collecting her prescription she took one pill after having already taken one that day and drank a large glass of wine before taking the tram home. Mr Martin-Sperry said that not only had she taken twice her usual dosage, five days later the maximum limit was reduced from 60mg to 40mg, and so she had in fact taken two and a half times the recommended dose when that was taken into account.

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