THE Czech-British woman found guilty of racial abuse last week after calling her New Zealander neighbour a “stupid, fat Australian” has told Australian Times that she plans to appeal her conviction.
Macclesfield Magistrates Court, Cheshire, heard that Petra Mills and Chelsea O’Reilly, a New Zealander with dual British/New Zealand citizenship, had been neighbours for over 18 months prior to the incident, which began when Mills called the police as the result of a domestic dispute with her husband.
Police arrested Mills’ husband and took a statement from O’Reilly in relation to the complaint, at which point Mills approached O’Reilly and branded her a “stupid, fat Australian”. Mills has denied that the insult was racially aggravated, and has insisted that she harbours no ill feelings towards Australians or New Zealanders.
Mills told the court: “I shouted at her, but it had nothing to do with racism. I did not use the word “Australian”. I used to live with an Australian person, she was very nice.”
O’Reilly told the court that she believed Mills’ prior knowledge of her New Zealand nationality proved that erroneously labelling her an ‘Australian’ was an insult purposefully designed as a hurtful slur.
“She called me a stupid, fat Australian b****. Because of my accent there can be some confusion. She knew I was from New Zealand. She was trying to be offensive. I was really insulted,” O’Reilly said.
Police at the scene who witnessed the incident told the court they heard Mills say the word “Australian”.
Mills was fined £110 for racially aggravated public disorder, £200 for assault and £500 in court costs. She was also order to pay £50 in compensation to each of the two police officers assaulted in the process of her arrest.
Chairman of the bench, Brian Donohue, held the term “Australian” was used in a racially aggravated way.
“The main reason it was used was in hostility”, the court held.
Mills told Australian Times that she could not believe the global response that the case has attracted in the aftermath of her conviction.
“The court case has proved disappointing for myself (sic) and my family. Most of the reports that have been quoted lack a disturbing amount of facts,” she said.
“This case is going to be appealed due to the sheer fact that it is not justice.”
Mills conviction has sparked debate throughout the British, Australian and New Zealand media in regards to whether the term “Australian” could be used in a racially abusive manner. Mills’ appeal is set to test the United Kingdom’s strict racial vilification legislation and determine the manner in which racial aggravation can be measured in assault cases.