'Vendetta' gran spared jail term
An 83-year-old who told her neighbour she hoped her soldier husband would not come back from Afghanistan has been sentenced for repeatedly breaching a restraining order.
Widow Ethel Watkins chanted and sang mocking songs just a day after being given the restraining order, on July 25.
Police arrested her but she continued to insult and taunt her neighbours.
She was convicted at a trial of four separate breaches of the order.
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The family was so traumatised by the campaign of harassment they moved from Leicestershire.
At Loughborough Magistrates' Court yesterday, Watkins was given a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for two years, and also ordered to pay £2,000 compensation to the family and £620 court costs.
Chairman of the bench Ben Faust said: "Mrs Watkins, the factors that aggravate your case are that you breached immediately when the restraining order was made.
"The family were victimised to the extent they were forced to leave their home."
Mr Faust said there were "no mitigating factors".
Speaking outside court, the female victim's father said: "We're pleased with the sentence and it's what we expected, given her age.
"We didn't think they would send her to prison.
"You never know with her but hopefully she will change her ways."
Earlier in the hearing, prosecutor Carol Huston read statements from the victims. The male victim said Watkins had mentally abused his family.
He said: "I now have a house I wouldn't be able to sell and that we wouldn't want to return to. It's broken my heart."
His wife, in her statement, said she was badly affected by the "vendetta".
Recalling one incident, she wrote: "She would laugh at me and open her window and say how ugly I was and that I should burn.
"My confidence and thirst for life was slowly vanishing.
"There were days I could hear Mrs Watkins and her friend laugh about getting me out."
Lisa O'Driscoll, representing Watkins, said her client had mild dementia and that her health would be badly affected in prison.
Mr Faust said he acknowledged Watkins's condition but said her psychiatric report showed she "still knew right from wrong".