Elderly Jewish couple fined by magistrates for calling daughter ‘abuser of the year’


An elderly Jewish couple who called their daughter “abuser of the year” when she restricted access to their grandchildren have earned themselves criminal records and a fine of £2,000.

Retired pharmacist Steven Freedman, 76, and his wife Hedy, 72, sent a letter to their daughter on her birthday containing the message, along with an email printed out from “Alienated Grandparents Anonymous” (AGA).

The couple had earlier fallen out with Danielle Hampson but she sent them a cut-out of a JC article in which she was named in the top ten of the Mensch of the Year competition.

Citing the “alarm and distress” this caused him, Mr Freedman put together the message and correspondence with Florida-based AGA and sent it in retaliation. The group says it helps those who suffer with “alienation or isolation” from their grandchildren.

Mr and Mrs Freedman were fined by magistrates in Liverpool on Wednesday for sending an indecent or “grossly offensive” letter and Ms Hampson, 46, said the letter left her “petrified”.

After pleading guilty, Mr Freedman was fined £1,600 and ordered to pay costs of £235. Mrs Freedman was fined £400 and ordered to pay costs of £110 after District Judge Adam Shaw said the letter was “deliberate and mean”.

The court heard the family feud escalated in 2014 when the Freedmans “mystifyingly” fell out with their only child, an NSPCC volunteer and psychotherapist, and she stopped them having direct contact with her two children, aged seven and ten.

Ms Hampson said she had experienced issues with her parents – who are respected figures in Liverpool’s Jewish community - throughout her life and was concerned Mrs Freedman had an “unhealthy fixation” with her grandchildren.

She sent her parents the JC article highlighting her positive contribution to the community last May.

In December Mr Freedman constructed his response after returning to England from his holiday home in Florida. His wife, a former ballet dancer, wrote the address on the envelope, knowing what was inside.

In a victim statement, Ms Hampson, who also volunteers for Jewish Women’s Aid, said: “I am constantly worried I will bump into or see my parents.

“I don’t go out in public or do community events regarding my Jewish faith. I feel petrified I will see them. My mother has developed an unhealthy fixated behaviour towards my children where I feel I am being stalked. I feel she wants to take them off me and raise them.”

Defence solicitor Julian Linskill called it a tragic case, arguing that the Freedmans’s greatest punishment was knowing they were unlikely to see their grandchildren again.

Mr Linskill said: “They provided a home for their daughter, paid for her wedding, paid for a £4,000 holiday for their daughter to come to Miami where they reside for part of the year and in all respects supported her throughout her childhood and through adulthood.

“Whatever her motive was, the defendants felt goaded by the document she sent. They accept they overstepped the mark but it seems to me they deserve the lightest touch the court can possibly bring in relation to sentence.”

District Judge Andrew Shaw told the pair: “Ms Hampson can more accurately be described as a carer, not an abuser. She found the letter very hurtful. It’s hard to say it can be sent with any other intent. “Mr and Mrs Freedman both bear equal responsibly for the actual act involving the letter. The actions were mean. The description is obviously false and inappropriate.”

An application by Ms Hampson for a restraining order was rejected. Mr and Mrs Freedman declined to comment after the hearing.

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