A teenager who branded a disabled girl found dead in a burnt-out car as "Frankenstein" walked free from court today after the main prosecution witness collapsed during her testimony.
The 16-year-old boy allegedly abused parish councillor Hazel Smith after she spoke out about the torment faced by Francecca Hardwick and her mother Fiona Pilkington from a gang of yobs.
Ms Pilkington, 38, set light to her car as she sat inside with her 18-year-old daughter after being attacked by the gang for more than 10 years while she cowered in her home in Barwell, Leicestershire.
A coroner severely criticised police and council officials for failing to help Ms Pilkington and her family in the years before their deaths.
Hinckley Youth Court heard today that following the inquest last September, the boy confronted 48-year-old Mrs Smith, a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator in Barwell, as she walked to work as a lollipop lady.
He branded her a grass and claimed Ms Pilkington and her daughter were "freaks" who "deserved" the abuse they received.
The boy was one of many who had been part of the gang which taunted the family over a number of years.
But as Mrs Smith was giving evidence, she appeared to collapse in a fit and paramedics had to be called.
District Judge David Meredith said he was unhappy about the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to abort the trial.
Prosecutor Mark Williams said it was in the "public interest" to end the trial and not adjourn it until another date.
Calling the trial off, the judge said: "I am backed into a corner from which I have no escape.
"There are particular aspects of this case that have caused me grave concern by the alleged response to Fiona Pilkington and her daughter's death.
"The alleged comment that Fiona Pilkington deserved what she got is a matter I would view as significant. I view the (CPS) decision not to proceed as a little hasty.
"I should also add that the suggestion that a person (Mrs Smith) who is involved in neighbourhood watch is somehow an irritant to society is something I view as reprehensible."
The boy's father left court punching the air. Earlier the boy's mother claimed their lives had been "ruined" by Mrs Smith.
James Bide-Thomas, defending, was congratulated outside court by the boy's father.
The barrister told the court: "I don't want the suggestion to be that (my client) was bang to rights and as a result of the poor misfortune of Mrs Smith while giving evidence has escaped scot-free."
Earlier the court heard from Mrs Smith, who said she was abused by the boy on August 16 and September 23.
She lived a 10-minute walk from Ms Pilkington's home on
Francecca, known as Frankie to friends, was hounded by youths in the street in the years leading up to her death despite having the mental age of a four-year-old.
Mrs Smith said she was contacted by the mother on several occasions about the abuse as she was a parish councillor and the area's neighbourhood watch co-ordinator.
As a result, the boy called her a "copper's nark" after she caught him shooting at her pet guinea pigs late one evening last August.
In the second confrontation, Mrs Smith said she was approached by the boy, who was riding his bike and smoking, as she walked to work as a lollipop lady on September 23, shortly after the inquests into Ms Pilkington and her daughter concluded.
Mrs Smith said: "He said that I was a neighbourhood watch bitch, a copper's nark and that I get people into trouble.
"He said he was going to smash my windows at the house and he hated me. I didn't reply to him and he then swore at me and stuck his two fingers up and started to ride off.
"He called the young lady (Francecca) Frankenstein and said she deserved what they got."
Mrs Smith added: "That made me feel terrible, like I was a troublemaker causing problems for everyone around Barwell. I was frightened in case I should say something I shouldn't. I felt stressed out, uncomfortable, terrible."
Moments later Mrs Smith collapsed.
Earlier two other boys, aged 16 and 17, were convicted of harassing grandmother Carol Sainsbury.
The youths were convicted of swearing and making obscene gestures at Ms Sainsbury, who lived a few doors down from Ms Pilkington on
A third defendant, Billy-Joe Kenney, 19, of
The youths will be sentenced on February 23.