Vigilantes vandalised the home of a prominent children's doctor in Wales after apparently confusing her title of paediatrician with "paedophile", police said yesterday.
Dr Yvette Cloete, a specialist in paediatric medicine at the Royal Gwent Hospital, fled her home after her windows and front door were spray-painted with the word "paedo", said Chief Insp Karl Close, of the Gwent Police.
"Are they just so dull they don't realise the difference between the two?" Chief Insp Close said. "This is a paediatrician who is committed to helping children and somebody targeted her."
"It is really quite staggering that this kind of mistake can happen," said Ms Marie Thorn, an administrator at the Royal Gwent Hospital.
"Some people are incredibly ignorant."
Dr Cloete said she had moved into a friend's home and did not plan to return to the rented house.
"It is just unbelievable," she said yesterday. "It is terrible that people think that they have the right to vandalise your property like this no matter what you have done."
Britain has been obsessed with the subject of paedophiles since July, when the naked body of an eight-year-old girl was discovered in a field, two weeks after she disappeared.
The News of the World printed pictures of sex offenders following the discovery, prompting people throughout Britain to take to the streets in an effort to drive out suspected paedophiles.
"You think that your home is a place to go to be safe, so it is a shock when something like this happens," Dr Cloete said. "I suppose I'm really a victim of ignorance."
Dr Cloete lived with her brother Andre (24). Police said they were satisfied neither sibling had any connection to paedophilia and that the doctor was the intended target of Saturday's attack.
Dr Cloete said police were making inquiries, but had not yet made any arrests.
Across Britain, several people who shared surnames with alleged offenders named by the News of the World also have had their homes attacked by vigilante gangs.
In Portsmouth, 70 miles south-west of London, police said five innocent families have so far been forced to leave their homes after threats from neighbours.
One man reportedly was suspected simply because he lived alone and talked about how much he loved his mother.