A MAN was hauled before a court after he called the follower of a fringe religion a ‘white witch’.

Phillip Gilroy was said to have approached neighbours having been drinking, shouting a threat that was a reference to the religion of victim Carolann Evison.

The 39-year-old said he driven out previous neighbours and threatened an argument about a fence on their property.

The woman said she was a follower of the Wicca religion, a form of Paganism with links to witchcraft.

Appearing in the dock, the defendant pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards the victim.

He was hauled into court after police executed a warrant after he failed to appear at a hearing earlier in the year.

South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court was told the incident happened in Barrow on June 18.

The ordeal was said to have left the victim feeling ‘frightened and threatened’.

Prosecutor Lee Dacre told the court: “The victim and her husband were on their driveway when the defendant approached and started shouting at them about the fence.

“He shouted at the victim, saying: ‘You white witch. We are going to stick pins in you all.

“She felt frightened and threatened by the words.

“She describes herself as a follower of the Wicca religion and believes this offence relates to that.”

The court was told the defendant had a record of 16 previous convictions for 31 offences.

Gilroy, of Barrow’s Lumley Street, was defended in court by solicitor Michael Graham.

Mr Graham said the defendant could not remember the incident.

“In interview he said he had been in drink at the time,” he said.

“It was the first time he had drunk for 12 months and had had some bad news that day.”

Mr Graham said Gilroy could not recall the incident but accepted that he used those words.

The solicitor added that the offence did not involve substantial force or disturbance and caused alarm or distress ‘but not serious’.

The court heard the defendant had since moved away from street where the victim lives - a reason why he had not attended a previous hearing following a court summons.

Magistrates concluded that the offence was religiously aggravated and sentenced Gilroy to a community order.

He will have to stay at his home between 7pm and 7am each day for the next four weeks.

Gilroy was also handed a £85 surcharge to fund victim services and costs of £85 for bringing the case to court.

According to last government census, nearly 12,000 people in the UK identify as followers of the Wicca religion.