A JUDGE said he was concerned that criminal law was being used 'to stop people swearing at each other' after a woman called a bankrupt man 'a pussy'.

His honour Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins made the remarks after a woman appeared before him for malicious communication after she used offensive language when she tried to chase up a debt from a Hereford man who had been declared bankrupt.

The woman had left an offensive answering phone message in which she described the complainant as 'a pussy'.

The judge who was sitting at Worcester Crown Court on Monday said: "That's an offence is it? Good heavens.

"It's fairly standard behaviour in life. I'm concerned criminal law is properly used, not to stop people swearing at each other. To call someone a pussy is impolite. It's not an offence. It's unpleasant but not a criminal act.

"If that's the case there's an awful lot of criminals about."

Aga Czachowska, aged 31, of Leypark Road, Exeter, admitted sending a malicious communication which was 'grossly offensive' between December 1 and December 7, 2015.

The complaints in the case were a couple from Hereford, Karl and Cheryl Smalley.

Christopher Lester, prosecuting, said Mr Smalley had previously been declared bankrupt when he owed Nigel Jones £10,000.

Of that debt £2,000 was returned to Mr Jones but the rest of the money was not paid because of the bankruptcy.

Mr Jones had mentioned the debt to Czachowska who worked for him assembling kitchen units and she was shown a picture of Mr Smalley on Facebook where she also found his mobile number. She claimed she had taken responsibility for collecting the debt.

Mr Lester said: "Mr Smalley was very distressed by that, saying he was bankrupt and there was nothing he could do."

The defendant also telephoned again, speaking this time to the complainant's wife who told her they had nothing and were still dealing with the bankruptcy.

Mr Lester added: "The defendant then phoned and left an answering machine message on the phone. It effectively said Mr Smalley was allowing his family to deal with these things for him."

In interview Czachowska denied any threats had been made but did accept she had used the language in the answering phone message. Mr Smalley had been able to play the message to police officers.

Mark Thompson, defending, said she had been, until this hearing, a woman of good character.

He said: "She did believe she was doing her friend a favour."

He also said the single mother of two had been suffering from depression and had lost her 14-year-old brother, who had been battling leukaemia, in a road traffic accident on the motorway.

The judge gave her credit for her early guilty plea and said it was 'at the bottom end of criminality', saying be believed there was a 'cultural difference' between the way debts were handled here and in the defendant's native Poland.

He gave her a conditional discharge for two years. He declined to grant a restraining order against the defendant in respect of Mr and Mrs Smalley and made no order for costs.