‘Smirking’ teen bully forced to say ‘sorry’ to deaf Bolton University student after cowardly hate campaign

By Saskia Murphy

A 13-year-old bully has escaped with a grovelling apology after he publicly humiliated a Bolton University student as a ‘dumb spazza’ during a cowardly hate campaign – because she is profoundly deaf.

The tearaway would creep up behind Kirsty Mills, 21, in the street then shout insults at the top of his voice so everyone in the vicinity could hear him except her.

The lad, who cannot be named, would also throw eggs at Kirsty’s family home and even hurl them at the car of a friend who dropped her off from lectures at Bolton University in Greater Manchester where she is studying photography.

The teasing and bullying would leave Kirsty wary of walking down the street near her home for fear she might bump into him.

The lad would also taunt Kirsty’s mother calling her a ‘fat bitch’ and a ‘prostitute’. And the lad’s own mother would tease Kirsty about her use of sign language.

But police swooped on the bully after her brother Paul, 27, who is also deaf lip read the lad’s insults.

Kirsty herself used photography skills she learned at college to take a picture of her tormentor as he ran off after throwing an egg and handed the image to officers.

The boy was questioned on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm and distress and police considered trying to securing an ASBO.

But due to the fact it was his first time in trouble, the boy agreed to make an apology which was submitted to Kirsty under the Home Office Restorative Justice Scheme.

Kirsty, from Walkden, near Salford who was born deaf and communicates through sign language said: ”He did come over and say sorry but I did not feel that it was a proper sorry.

“He was smirking and he was acting as though he felt more sorry that he got caught by police. It appeared to me that he wasn’t sorry for what he had done to us. I don’t think he realised how much he upset us. “

“The good news is that the attacks have stopped and we feel safe to walk down the street again. I feel confident and my family are happy again. Everything has gone back to normal.

“If I could speak to the boy, I would ask him why he did all this. This is the first time I have ever experienced anything like this and I hope it will be the last.”

Kirsty said she began getting teased by the boy in October 2013 when he started walking by her home where she lives with her parents Anthony, 50, and Denise, 49, and older siblings.

The teenager would taunt Miss Mills and her older brother Paul, 27, who is also deaf, as they walked to hospital appointments. The boy would insult the siblings by calling them names such as ‘deaf and dumb’ and ‘spazza’.

Kirsty said: “Whenever we took the dog for a walk at night time the boy would find us and call us names.

“When we went to hospital appointments the boy was shouting and calling us deaf, dumb, spazzas, anything like that.

“We didn’t really understand what he had said because our backs were turned. My brother heard some kind of noise and turned around to ask what was being said and we could lip-read and see what he was calling us.

“I felt angry, frustrated, upset and scared at the same time. I didn’t understand why he was discriminating against us but I do think the main reason is because we are deaf. I felt we were being victimised because we are deaf.

“He would even call our mum a ‘slag,’ a ‘fat bitch’ and a ‘prostitute’.

The bullying gradually progressed from name-calling to the point where the boy would throw eggs at the house and at Kirsty’s friend’s car whenever she dropped her off after university.

Kirsty added: “The first time the boy threw eggs at the house the police told us they needed more evidence but then one day I was coming home from university with my friend and we happened to see him throw an egg and he ran off – I got out of the car and took a picture.

“Even his mother used to make fun of how we use sign language. We felt like we couldn’t walk down the street, we used to walk down other streets to avoid him.”

Miss Mills hopes to use her story to encourage other victims of hate crime to come forward during Hate Crime Awareness Week.

She said: “I would tell other victims to be strong and speak to the police – the police are very helpful. Because my family and I spoke out about what was happening to us we can walk on our street again without feeling scared.

“Hate Crime Awareness week is important because it will help resolve discrimination and help everybody to become more aware about what is going on.

“It’s not just about the colour of skin or about people being disabled, it’s about everything. Anyone can be a victim of hate crime.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police said: “I want the message to get through really clearly that we will not tolerate any offence of this kind.

“We need to continue to do more to encourage reporting from all communities, and we are currently doing a lot of work to raise awareness of our third party reporting centres, which people can attend if they would rather not go to a police station.

“Hate crime undermines the energy and richness that is an essential part of life and I would ask anyone who suffers a crime motivated by hate to come forward, as all reports will be thoroughly investigated.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Picture courtesy of Bill Harman via Flickr, with thanks.

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