CPS defends prosecution of disabled widow in 'prodding' case

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The Independent Online

The Crown Prosecution Service today defended its decision to take legal proceedings against a 71-year-old woman who prodded a 17-year-old youth in the chest.

Renate Bowling, of Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, confronted the boy in the street after stones were thrown at her home.

The disabled widow, who walks with a steel frame, said she thought it was a "joke" when police arrived at the scene and arrested her for jabbing the teenager with her finger.

She initially denied common assault on 12 May but pleaded guilty to the offence when she appeared before Blackpool magistrates.

Bowling was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £50 court costs.

The great-grandmother, who fled to Britain from East Germany following the Second World War, said youths in her neighbourhood had been making her life a misery.

She told the Daily Mail: "What justice is there? There are a group of youths who throw gravel at my window and use foul language against me.

"I saw one of them throw the stones against my window from my bedroom. I went out and found him hiding behind a wall. I poked my finger out at him and told him what I thought of him.

"Then the police arrested me - I thought 'What a joke. What is going on?'."

The court was told the 17-year-old boy was uninjured.

The CPS said today there was no evidence the boy she assaulted had thrown the stones and that she failed to stop poking him in the chest after an officer told her to stop.

A CPS spokeswoman said: "In deciding to charge Renate Bowling with common assault we considered all the available evidence from witnesses, including the police officer who attended and witnessed the ongoing incident and a further eyewitness.

"Mrs Bowling had emerged from her house and was seen by the officer to be shouting loudly at the 17-year-old boy and using abusive language.

"The officer then saw her assault the boy by prodding him in the chest and grabbing hold of his clothing.

"She was given a number of chances by the officer to stop assaulting and verbally abusing the boy. She didn't stop and was then arrested.

"There was no evidence that the boy she assaulted had been throwing stones at her house or had been involved in any provocation.

"As Mrs Bowling did not admit the offence initially, it was not possible to caution her for the matter. There was no criticism from magistrates about the decision to prosecute."