James Rattigan, 67, (pictured outside court) vowed to kill Kenny McLaughin and his family and burn their house down
An axe-wielding pensioner waged a terrifying hate campaign against his neighbours because they are Scottish.
James Rattigan, 67, of Failsworth, Greater Manchester, vowed to kill Kenny McLaughin and his family and burn their house down after they parked their family car outside his house.
While Mr McLaughlin, 53, and his 50-year old wife Tracey and their two daughters were in bed, Rattigan went into his back garden after a night out at the pub and shouted over their adjoining fence: ‘You Scottish c**** I’m going to kill you, I’m going to jump over the fence now, come on I’m going to burn you all.’
On another occasion Mr McLaughlin captured on camera Rattigan sporting a T shirt and trilby wielding an axe in the street and shouting: ‘I’m going to chop your heads off – I’m going to f***** kill you’.
Rattigan also rang the fire brigade and sent them round to his neighbours’ house when there was no blaze.
Police were handed a video taken by Mr McLaughlin’s teaching assistant daughter Ashleigh, 25, showing Rattigan unleashing a foul mouthed racist tirade at them.
Details emerged at Tameside Magistrates’ Court where Rattigan, a former machinist, was found guilty after a trial of using abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence and racially aggravated harrassment.
He was given 14 weeks jail suspended for 12 months and must pay £215 in costs and surcharges. A restraining order was also imposed, banning him from contacting the McLaughlin family.
Police were handed a video taken by Mr McLaughlin’s teaching assistant daughter Ashleigh, 25, showing Rattigan unleashing a foul mouthed racist tirade at them
He claimed he had been shouting: ‘Scottish c****’ at his TV whilst watching a football match involving Scottish Premiership club Celtic.
He told JPs: ‘Put me in prison – I’m going to appeal because I’m not guilty.’
The court heard the McLaughlins had lived next door to Rattigan since 1994 and there had been ‘ongoing discontent and conflict’ between them but it boiled over into violence between December 19 2016 and February 1 2017.
Prosecuting, Miss Risha Seth said: ‘Ashleigh was making her way across the street when she saw the defendant stood next to her father’s motor vehicle holding an object which she believed to be a hammer.
‘He was holding it up over his shoulder as though he was about to swing it to her father’s vehicle. Ashleigh asked what he was doing and that it appears to stop him from striking.
Kenny McLaughln’s daughters Elle (left) and Ashleigh
‘She also shouted for her father to come out and Mr McLaughlin made his way outside. But at this point the defendant begins to approach him, holding the object and waving it around. The defendant then holds the item up and shouts ‘I’m going to f****** kill you’.
‘Kenneth was able to take a photograph of the defendant holding the item which was in fact an axe. A witness was walking past and describes seeing the defendant with an axe hitting it against his own house wall. Police attended and the axe was taken from the rear door.’
Ms Seth added: ‘Since October 2016 the defendant has been shouting and swearing insults and making threats to the family.
‘Initially it began over a minor parking issue with them parking outside his home address, a row of terraced houses. They had been parking outside the home address due to a lack of other space and the defendant doesn’t own a car.
‘It’s as a result of that the defendant began shouting insults and making verbal threats to the family from the back garden late at night and whilst drunk.
‘At 10.55pm he returned from the local public house having consumed alcohol and entered via the rear garden. He started shouting threats and verbal abuse directed at the family.
‘He said ‘you Scottish c**** I’m going to kill you, I’m going to jump over the fence now, come on I’m going to burn you all’.
‘Kenneth is from Scotland, him and his wife were in bed but those specific threats continued over and over. Ashleigh activated her recorder on her mobile phone and was able to record some comments made.
Home of Mr McLaughlin (left ) and James Rattigan (right). Rattigan was found guilty after a trial of using abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence and racially aggravated harassment
‘She was terrified by the defendant’s behaviour and words used and called the police. The McLaughlin’s other daughter Ellie McLaughlin, 19, was also awake and heard the shouting and threats by the defendant. The police couldn’t attend immediately but the threats went from 10pm until 2am.
‘At around 2am on January 30 the defendant phoned the fire brigade, he claims to have smelt burning, they arrived and woke the complainants. They describe being concerned about the threats of burning down the house. They felt something may have actually happened.’
The court heard how Rattigan – who denied all the charges – has convictions dating back to 1969 for assault, theft and wounding.
His lawyer Saul Comish said in mitigation: ‘Both Mr Rattigan and the McLaughlin’s are next door neighbours and there has been a dispute for months if not several years. It’s accepted he was carrying an axe, he walked past them and into his address.
‘Mr Rattigan doesn’t accept his guilt. He would say the racially aggravated part of the offence when he referred to people being Scottish he would say he was watching TV and watching Celtic. He’s 67 and has lived there for 23 years.
‘He suffers from poor health, he has arthritis, COPD, he had a heart attack a few weeks ago and also suffers from depression.
‘Given his age, ill health and lack of convictions it would not be appropriate to impose a custodial sentence.’
A probation report written for the JPs said: ‘Mr Rattigan has lived at his address since 1994 as have the neighbours. There has been ongoing discontent and conflict. Both of them own the properties. He’s not working due to his ill health. He is claiming state pension. He does have over £3,000 in overdraft and other debt.
‘Mr Rattigan is from a travelling background. He was removed from the care of his parents at a very young age. He has negative attitudes towards the criminal justice system and the police.’
Passing sentence JP Dianne Nuttall told Rattigan: ‘These are so serious only custody could be justified due to the ongoing nature of the offences, the place being at the victims’ home, the racial abuse, the ongoing affect on the victims and the use of a weapon.’
A probation report revealed Mr Rattigan is from a travelling background and was removed from the care of his parents at a very young age
After the case Mrs McLaughlin, 50 said: ‘I want to move now because I can’t cope with all this anymore. Some people don’t give it him back because they are scared of him but I’ve got to the point now where I don’t care.
‘He was outside three or four times a week and we would be telling him to go in the house. He will stand outside shouting ‘come on you Northern f******* c**** come on I’ll kill you all’ then you go outside and no one is there.
‘It got to a point when we didn’t want friends coming here because of him.’
Mr McLaughlin who was born in Johnstone in Renfrewshire said: ‘I was working nights and he called my wife a f****** Scottish b****. I didn’t think you would come across anyone like him in a lifetime – he’s a vicious, vicious man.
‘We’ve been here 30 years, paid the mortgage. I’ve never been unemployed, never had a day off sick. I’m proud of it. Meanwhile he’s up at night screaming and bawling and we are at work the next morning.’
Ashleigh said: ‘He would say if we didn’t move our car he would take all four wheels off and said he would burn us all. I would make my mum watch me to the car whenever I went out. He’s a neighbour from hell, he’s threatened to kill us and I just wonder how long is it going to take until someone does something.
‘To threaten to kill you, come out with an axe and say he’s going to burn you how much worse does it have to be?’