Sheffield housing officer abused by landlord over her physical appearance

Michelle Houston, Service Manager for Private Housing Standards at Sheffield City Council was subjected to abuse from rogue landlord, Mark Cashin
Michelle Houston, Service Manager for Private Housing Standards at Sheffield City Council was subjected to abuse from rogue landlord, Mark Cashin
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A Sheffield housing manager subjected to vile online abuse from a rogue landlord says she feels she was targeted over her physical appearance because she is a woman.

Last week, rogue landlord, Mark Cashin, 48, was convicted of two counts of harassing a tenant/occupier and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £2,400 in costs.

Mark Cashin has been convicted of harassing Michelle Houston

Mark Cashin has been convicted of harassing Michelle Houston

During Thursday's hearing, it was revealed that in addition to 54 other property offences, Cashin has also previously been convicted of harassing Michelle Houston, Service Manager for Private Housing Standards at Sheffield City Council.

Cashin posted the criminal comments on Facebook and Twitter, and Michelle said today she feels he criticised her over her physical appearance, and not her professional conduct, because she is a woman.

She said: "He criticised my male colleagues too, but he didn't get personal with them, he said they were rubbish at their job or they had made the wrong decision.

"But with me he was talking about my weight and my physical appearance. I think there's a clear distinction between the way he hit out at my male colleagues and the way he hit out at me.

Tweets from Mark Cashin's Twitter account. Screenshot taken on March 27, 2018.

Tweets from Mark Cashin's Twitter account. Screenshot taken on March 27, 2018.

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"There wasn't anything he could criticise me for the my decisions or the way I'd handled things, and I'm completely used to receiving that type of criticism, so he decided to attack me over my physical appearance instead.

"I think he thought that attacking a woman over her physical appearance would be like her Achilles' heel and that it would make me stop the action we were taking against him."

Cashin was convicted of harassing Michelle at Sheffield Magistrates' Court in November last year, when he was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Magistrates also granted a three-year restraining order, which prevents Cashin from contacting Michelle during that period.

Cashin, of Haddon Road, Bakewell was also ordered to pay costs of £300 and a victim surcharge of £115

Michelle says being subjected to personal abuse has been difficult, but adds she would have been happy for the matter to be resolved through South Yorkshire Police's restorative justice programme - something Cashin refused to do.

The abuse suffered by Michelle comes as Sheffield councillor, Jayne Dunn, revealed she has been terrorised by different men, both online and in person.

Coun Dunn has now said she intends to campaign for misogyny to be recognised as a hate crime, something Michelle says she would support.

Michelle added: "It does appear that there are men out there who feel they can be abusive, because they don't respect women in senior positions."

Sentencing Cashin on Thursday, Recorder Martin Simpson told Cashin: "It's clear that you are a man who, if he doesn't get his own way, forces his own way."

He added: "There's also the background of you taking it out on a local authority employee."