Saturday 10 December 2016

Man spared prison after shouting homophobic insults at Eddie Izzard

Published 30/11/2016 | 16:56

Eddie Izzard was abused in the street
Eddie Izzard was abused in the street

A man with autism said that Eddie Izzard is going to "burn in hell" after he was sentenced for shouting homophobic abuse at the comedian in a London street.

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Jamie Penny also threatened to "do" the 54-year-old's house after an altercation near his home in Pimlico, before a month later shouting to Izzard that he was a "f****** poofter" after seeing him for a second time in a nearby street.

Izzard told a court during Penny's trial that he stood up to him and pressed charges to take a stand against "thousands of years of transgender people being aggressively attacked".

The 24-year-old, who also has ADHD, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday after being found guilty of two counts of using threatening and abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Magistrates told him his homophobic language had been deliberately intended to cause distress and so was treated as a hate crime.

Penny, from Pimlico, also damaged a police cell with his trouser zip after being arrested, and was sentenced for another two previous unrelated charges - bombarding his ex-girlfriend with threatening and abusive phone calls and text messages and damaging her father's car, both of which he pleaded guilty to last month.

He was sentenced to 20 weeks, suspended for 12 months.

As he walked out of court, Penny said: "Eddie Izzard is going to burn in hell."

Penny's trial heard that on April 3 he threatened Mr Izzard as he moved bags by his 1958 Volkswagen Beetle in Pimlico, telling him "Izzard, we are going to do your house when you are away" when the actor refused him and a friend a ride in his car.

A month later, on May 4, the court heard Penny shouted "you're a f****** poofter" at Mr Izzard across a road near Victoria station.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Izzard said: "I would like to say that I do not scare easily and I refuse to be easily scared but this has made me very wary of who is on the street and who may be next to me.

"As he threatened to burgle my house openly in the street I now have to make sure my house is very secure and that all the alarms are working perfectly at all times.

"I would like to add that as a transgender man I do wear heels, dresses and makeup and I am sure this is what made Mr Penny so homophobic and aggressive towards me.

"This situation could have affected me in a number of other ways but I refuse to let myself be affected by this sad individual."

While on bail, Penny got into an argument with ex-girlfriend Emma Holleran and her father Michael Holleran about who would have responsibility for a dog he owned with her.

The court heard he bombarded her with more than 50 phone calls and a number of abusive text messages, threatening to damage Mr Holleran's car and violence to them both.

In one he said: "Am I going to have to slam the door off? You're going to make me attack you and your dad", while in another he threatened: "You and your dad are going to get seriously hurt."

While on the phone to Penny, Mr Holleran heard his car being damaged and the sound of a wing mirror breaking, and when police arrived they found it badly damaged and covered in footprints. It was later written off.

Magistrates sentenced Penny to 12 weeks in prison for the two charges against Mr Izzard, suspended for 12 months, telling him they passed the custody threshold because they occurred near his home, were a hate crime, there was potential for the incidents to escalate and because the second was a targeted attack.

The threats to Ms Holleran had left her a "nervous wreck, worried about her friends and family", magistrates' chairman Jeffery Manton told Penny, sentencing him to a further eight weeks suspended for 12 months.

Mr Manton warned him that if he offended again he would be sent to prison, and ordered him to pay £500 in costs and £100 compensation to Mr Izzard.

Press Association

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