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Northam widow found guilty of racially aggravated offence

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

North Devon Magistrates' Court

North Devon Magistrates' Court

A 73-YEAR-OLD widow has been found guilty of a racially aggravated offence after magistrates heard that she called a nurse a "black bitch".

Catherine Webb, of 48 Windsor Road, Northam, pleaded not guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words during an incident on Capener ward at North Devon District Hospital.

But North Devon Magistrates' Court heard two witnesses testify that Webb had, indeed, called the nurse a black bitch.

The nurse Mrs Lindy Dube said she started working on the six-bedded ward a couple of days before the incident.

Webb came to visit her disabled son Michael who was being looked after on the ward.

Mrs Dube was giving out medication when Webb asked her whether her son had been washed that morning; Webb also said that he had a urine infection.

Mrs Dube told the court that Webb was abrupt and aggressive and called her a black bitch.

She said she felt a bit annoyed at the time but if she had, had her way the case would not have come to court.

"All I wanted from Mrs Webb was for her to say sorry," she said.

The court heard that Webb was under the impression that the nurse was about to give the wrong medication to her son.

David Rowe, for the defence, challenged Mrs Dube on what his client had said to her.

He said: "She is absolutely adamant that at no time did she call you a black bitch."

Mrs Dube insisted several times that Webb did, in fact, use those words.

The court heard, via a video link, from Anthony Wilson who was on the same ward, opposite Webb's son, at the time of the incident.

He said that Webb warned him against the nurse and told him that the previous day she had nearly given her son the wrong medication.

He said that in the process Webb had also called her a black bitch.

In his opinion he found the nurse to be confident and compassionate and everything you would expect from someone in a hospital.

He said: "This particular person had been nothing but extremely professional and I felt she was being harshly treated."

Amanda Curnow, the ward clerk on Capener, said she also heard Webb call Mrs Dube a black bitch and in her opinion it was wrong and should not be tolerated.

In a interview with PC Nick Daffern Webb said she would not use those words because she had got black friends.

Webb, who is the sole carer for her disabled son, said that when she thought the nurse was trying to give her son the wrong medication she did call her a stupid bitch.

Afterwards she did try to apologise but Mrs Dube did not want to know.

Magistrates were satisfied the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt and found her guilty.

Webb was given a conditional discharge for 24 months and told to pay a contribution towards costs of £200.

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