Lucky escape for racist remarks

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A YOB was lucky to avoid prison after racially abusing a Nigerian man in a pub.

Leslie Gibbon, 42, directed a stream of abuse towards Jude Anyanwu when he tried to watch a football match in Hartlepool’s Park Inn.

He asked the victim several times where he was from.

When Mr Anyanwu replied “Hartlepool” Gibbon said “no you’re not”, called him an offensive name and likened black people to slaves.

The cable-puller denied a charge of racially aggravated fear or provocation of violence, but was convicted of the offence after standing trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Mr Anyanwu was so upset at the racist remarks that he got up from where he was sitting and went into the toilet.

He was followed by a friend of Gibbon’s and threatened, prompting him to leave the Park Road pub.

Gibbon was spared jail yesterday and given a suspended sentence.

Judge Peter Bowers said he was “very tempted” to send Gibbon straight to prison.

He said: “These were despicable comments, wholly uncalled for, demeaning to Mr Anyanwu and insulting to him.

“At least you had the good sense not to follow him and offer violence to him as your mate did.

“This sort of comment cannot be tolerated and I felt very sorry for the victim who was a very decent respectable man and who was clearly shocked by the attitude of you particularly.

“You have been very fortunate.”

Gibbon, formerly from Hartlepool, now of Thorndike Road, Middlesbrough, was given eight months prison suspended for 12 months with supervision.

He was also told to pay £1,500 compensation to the victim.

The court heard Gibbon had previous convictions linked to football matches and was drinking too much at the time of the incident on May 9 last year.

Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, said: “He presents today as a good solid family man.

“He accepts he’s made a dreadful number of mistakes, first of all his behaviour and secondly the way this case has proceeded through the courts.”