Feuding parents have separate school gates

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Feuding parents at a Wigan school were provided with separate entrances to prevent their row escalating, a court has heard.

The extraordinary measure was taken by a borough primary school after it emerged one parent, Mark Joynt, had been harassing another dad at the school.

Joynt regularly shouted abuse and swore at Christoper Ratchford for more than a year, 12 years after he was convicted of harassing the same victim.

The abuse took place in the street, outside the victim’s house and St Jude’s Primary, the school both parties’ children attended.

Wigan Magistrates Court heard how for months Mark Joynt, of Dickens Place, Worsley Mesnes, would regularly harass Mr Ratchford outside their children’s school and when driving past his house.

The harassment started in January 2015 and only stopped when Mr Ratchford rang the police to report 42-year-old Joynt and he was arrested.

The court heard that there was a history between the two men and in 2004 Joynt was convicted of the same offence against the same victim.

Steve Woodman, prosecuting, said: “The harassment began in January 2015. Both parties have children that attend the same school.

“On a fairly regular basis, the victim was shouted abuse at by Mr Joynt. On the first occasion, Mr Ratchford was walking back from school with his 11-year-old son when Mr Joynt drove past, shouted abuse and stuck two fingers up at him.”

Mr Woodman went on to explain that there had been several similar incidents as well as occasions when Joynt would drive slowly past Mr Ratchford’s house shouting and giving the same hand gesture,

He said: “There was a break in the incidents after June but then there was a spate of incidents in March which prompted Mr Ratchford to call the police and Mr Joynt was arrested.

“Mr Ratchford, who kept a diary of the incidents, has said he feels extremely intimidated by My Joynt and he didn’t understand why he continued to harass him in this way.

“He said he just wanted a peaceful life and this had not just affected him but his son as well.”

Joynt, who had previously pleaded guilty to one count of harassment without violence, was originally convicted of harassing Mr Ratchford in 2004 and was given a restraining order.

He was then given a suspended sentence and the order was extended after he breached the restraining order but has not committed any other offences since.

Bill Pearson, defending, said: “Mr Joynt really ought to know better. He did report Mr Ratchford for harassment on March 2 and he was given a verbal warning by officers to desist. I think it is no coincidence that on March 8, Mr Joynt was then reported to the police.

“He accepts that his behaviour was unacceptable and that tit-for-tat is no excuse. There are some issues which Mr Joynt is taking steps to tackle. The school are aware of this ongoing problem and have agreed that each party can use a different entrance to the school.”

Joynt was given a four-week sentence suspended for 12 months and a fresh restraining order was issued banning him from contacting Mr Ratchford or going within 50 metres of his home for two years. He was ordered to pay £50 compensation, £85 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge.