Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 11:46 UK

Mother talks of 'racial attack'

Blaenau Ffestiniog station
The family were waiting for a train at Blaenau Ffestiniog

A woman and her family who suffered racist abuse for being English tourists has said she will not return to the Welsh town where the attack happened.

Paula and Lee Owen from Bolton, Greater Manchester, were visiting relatives at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd when a youth shouted and threw stones at them.

Mrs Owen has spoken about how her family were disappointed by the attack at the town's station.

A 16-year-old boy has admitted the offence and been punished.

Mrs Owen said her family had been visiting the slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog with their two-year-old daughter, while caravanning in the area.

Rocks were thrown at the family while they were at the station, waiting for a train at the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway on 28 August.

'Beautiful country'

"The youth was shouting abuse at people at the bus stop and when we carried on towards the platform he was shouting abuse to us.

"He became quite abusive, speaking Welsh and my husband said to me - just keep walking and just ignore him," Mrs Owen said.

"I turned around to glance back at him and that's when he threw the rock. It hit the platform and rebounded up and hit me on the arm and missed my little girl who is two years old by inches."

The trip to the slate mine was an anniversary gift from her husband's family who live in Anglesey.

Blaenau Ffestiniog
The family cut short their holiday in the area

"All my husband's family are from Wales and he understands Welsh," Mrs Owen said. "He said he (the youth) was being very racially abusive - he was using a lot of expletives, calling us English this and English that."

Mrs Owen said she would not return to Blaenau Ffestiniog after their experience but said she would happily return to other parts of Snowdonia.

"It's such a beautiful country, people should be welcomed with open arms."

Dafydd Hughes, a councillor in Blaenau Ffestiniog, considers himself a "proud" black man.

Mr Hughes was bought up in a children's home near Caernarfon where he suffered name calling because of the colour of his skin.

He said: "I don't know the background or the detail of this case but I condemn what has happened, and this kind of thing needs to be stamped out.

"However visitors should realise that this sort of thing (anti social behaviour) can happen anywhere."

Mr Hughes said he had not encountered any problems in the town, and a lot of English people lived there.

But he added: "I hope this will be a lesson to all young people in 'Stiniog to respect their fellow man.

"I hope too that this youth has learnt his lesson as he was very lucky not to have gone to jail."

The 16-year-old, who admitted racially aggravated threatening behaviour, will be tagged and was given a two-year community and rehabilitation order.

Mrs Owen was awarded 150 compensation by a youth court in Dolgellau.

The court heard the youth's parents are to write a letter of apology to the Owens.


SEE ALSO
Stones attack on English visitors
23 Sep 08 |  North West Wales
Youth's racist attack on tourists
06 Oct 08 |  North West Wales


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