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Tracey McCarthy and son Jamie jailed for 'vigilante' attack in Borehamwood
A mother and her son who acted as "vigilantes" to dispense their own rough justice have been jailed.
The pair were incensed after the family home was broken into and a safe containing cash and sentimental items of jewellery were stolen.
But days later, when they confronted the mother of the person they thought responsible, she was stabbed as she sat in her car with two young children on the back seat.
Tracey McCarthy, 45, and her son Jamie, 22, appeared in the dock today at St Albans crown court.
The mother admitted an offence of affray while her son pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and having an offensive weapon.
Matthew Banham, prosecuting, said: "This is a case of a family who thought they could take the law into their own hands. They had a reputation to keep up and one they thought demanded respect from the community."
He added: "They dished out this form of vigilante violence."
The court was told on Friday, April 13 last year the McCarthy family reported a break into police at their home in Cowley Hill, Borehamwood.
They supplied CCTV pictures from their property, which they believed could identify those they thought were responsible.
Mr Banham said the McCarthys gave police the name of a young man they thought had burgled their property and taken a safe that contained jewellery and £6,000 in cash.
Judge John Plumstead, hearing the case, was told over that April weekend, the mother of the man heard the McCarthys were looking for him.
On the Monday morning, when police rang the McCarthy home to update them on progress, Mrs McCarthy told an officer the family of the man they suspected were "scum".
During the call the mother said: "They don't know who we are, they don't realise they have burgled the McCarthy family."
The court was told the mother was particularly upset because items of jewellery that had belonged to her baby, which died in 2000, had been taken during the break-in.
Mr Banham said the mother was advised that her family should not take the law into their own hands and police were looking for the man they had put forward.
Later that morning, Mrs McCarthy and her son Jamie drove into Buckingham Road in Borehamwood as they stepped up their own search for the suspect and their missing property.
The court heard they had called at a house in the road when the mother of the man they had named to police pulled up on the driveway in her car.
She had two young children on the back seat but it didn't stop Tracey McCarthy launching into a tirade of abuse, the court was told.
As she sat in the vehicle Jamie, who was armed with a large carving knife, stabbed her twice in the upper chest under her left arm.
The mother and son fled the scene but later gave themselves up to police later that day.
By then the son had got rid of the knife, which has never been found.
The prosecutor said: "She was interviewed and said they were doing their civic duty by going round there."
Judge Plumstead was told the victim had lost the feeling in her shoulder because of the injuries she sustained. In addition, she was now frightened to leave her home.
Shaun Wallace, defending the son, said he now felt genuine remorse for what he's done.
Lesley Masnley, for the mother, added: "She realises she should have been more of a guiding influence for her son."
Passing sentence, the judge told the pair: "This is a case of ghastly and frightening violence." He said the mother had been behind a series of lurid threats and had sort retribution.
"The police told her not to go and seek retribution so she was warned," he said.
But he added: "She set out on an expedition intended to lead to a confrontation" in which the victim had been "cornered".
Judge Plumstead jailed the son for nine years and his mother, who has two other young children, for 18 months.