Leeds – Julie Ann Rycroft, who continually denied she was racist, was told by a judge at Leeds Crown Court this week that she “lost all sense of rationality”, having sent 148 emails in the space of four months. Prosecutor Imran Khan that the messages were “grossly offensive, antisemitic and racially aggravated”.
Rycroft, who is 66-year-old and with no previous convictions, had been living in a rented property in Rothwell in early 2020 when the property was taken over and the new landlord issued a Section 21 eviction notice. She then began sending emails and voice mails to the solicitor calling him a “b*****d” and “a piece of shit”. She also made references to him being Jewish.
She also included other employers from the company in the emails and left additional voicemails.
She was issued with a warning by West Yorkshire Police in September 2020 to cease sending the malicious communications, but ignored it and continued sending emails. During a police interview in November 2020 she admitted sending the emails, but denied being racist, saying that was simply “how she talked”.
Rycroft, now of Ludlow Avenue, Garforth, said she was reacting to the stress imposed by the attempts to evict her. But she then went on to send the huge batch of offensive emails between February and June of 2022.
She was arrested in July last year and again admitted sending the messages, but denied they were racially-aggravated, saying she was an atheist and has no animosity to any particular religion.
She eventually admitted two counts of racially-aggravated harassment and one of simple harassment, but only shortly before she was due to stand trial.
Mitigating, Duncan McReddie said: “She has had a very salutary experience but she is an intelligent woman, she has been a successful businesswoman in the past.
“Through me, she accepts that these messages have caused harassment and also accept the vocabulary used is racist. She accept that when you pout the together, you have racially-aggravated harassment.”
Judge Simon Batiste said her behaviour warranted jail, but opted to suspended the sentence, giving her eight months, suspended for two years. He told her: “You were living in a property in Rothwell that was taken over by a new landlord in April of 2020.
“The landlord sought possession of the property and you started bombarding that landlord with large amounts of emails with a lot of abusive language and on occasion, racially-abusive language suggesting they were Jewish.
“What’s clear is that when you get a bee in your bonnet you will not let it lie and you get yourself more and more worked up, and lose all sense of rationality of what you are doing.
“This was persistent behaviour, and your pre-sentence report (written by probation) makes very difficult reading. You have little victim awareness and there’s little or no remorse for what you have done.”
Along with the suspended jail term, he also gave her 10 rehabilitation days and a 10-year restraining order, banning her from contacting the landlord or those who work for the company that managed the property.