Mum who harassed neighbours walks free from court as sentence cut by judge

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A woman who was jailed for making false allegations against her neighbours walked free from court after winning an appeal.

Gemma Pitman was sentenced to 20 weeks by Teesside Magistrates Court for harassment of her neighbours and housing officials.

She appealed against the decision to a judge and two magistrates at Teesside Crown Court.

Pitman made false allegations of domestic violence and children fighting in the street, the court heard.

Pitman, 32, of Midlothian Road, Hartlepool, admitted harassment.

She has previous convictions for what was described in court as ‘similar offending’, making a malicious communication, and wasting police time.

Andrew Teate, for Pitman, said she admitted the latest offences, but the sentence was too harsh.

“She is not without her difficulties having a longstanding personality disorder,” Mr Teate added.

“These offences are unlikely to happen again, not least because one or both of the parties will be rehoused.

“Sentencing guidelines suggest a lower starting point.

“There are aggravating features, but there is also mitigation, not least the effect on her young children of being separated from their mother.”

Judge Armstrong reduced the sentence to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

“We are of the view the original sentence of 20 weeks was too long,” said the judge.

“We also had to consider if the appropriate sentence of 12 weeks is capable of being suspended.

“There is a prospect of rehabilitation in this case, the defendant had a difficult background, and we are mindful of the effect of a prison sentence on the children.

“Another matter to take into account is the defendant has already spent three weeks in custody.”

Pitman was ordered to do 20 days of rehabilitation activity.

The judge told her: “We have given you a chance today, you would be well advised to take it.”