Man racially abused taxi driver who refused to give him a lift

The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

A self-confessed racist admitted making racial remarks about a taxi driver.

Paul Keers said he made the remarks about Suhel Ahmed to police after he was arrested following a dispute with Mr Ahmed at the taxi rank in Hartlepool town centre.

Keers denied any wrongdoing because the remarks were not made toward Mr Ahemd or within his hearing.

Keers was convicted of two charges of racially aggravated threatening behaviour after a trial at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

Mr Ahmed told the court he refused to take Keers because he knew him to be someone who didn't pay his fare.

"He approached my taxi and I told him I would not take him home," said Mr Ahmed.

"He was abusive to me and my colour, and he kicked the nearside door of the taxi.

"I got out to ask him what he was doing, and he made another racial remark.

"It was upsetting, I'm just trying to earn a living and I shouldn't have to put up with that sort of thing."

Keers told the court he had not kicked the door.

He admitted calling Mr Ahmed a racist name, but said that had happened at Hartlepool police station when he was telling officers what had happened.

"What I said was inappropriate," said Mr Keers.

"I was annoyed at being falsely accused of kicking the door and saying those things to the taxi driver.

"I'd been to a funeral that day and I'd had a few pints, but I wasn't drunk."

Keers, 49, of Arch Court, Hartlepool, denied two charges of racially aggravated threatening behaviour on April 11.

He was convicted by District Judge Kristina Harrison on what she called 'overwhelming evidence'.

Keers admitted possession of a class B drug.

Police found a cannabis joint in his pocket when he was arrested, the court heard.

In a verbal pre-sentence report, the court's liaison probation officer said Keers had made racially offensive remarks during his interview.

"He admits he needs help with his attitudes," the officer told the court.

She added Keers claims approximately £1,000 a month in benefits and has 'no money issues'.

Nick Woodhouse, defending, said Keers served significant prison sentences in the past, but he had kept out of trouble for several years.

"He was last before the court in 2013," said Mr Woodhouse.

"He was released from that sentence in 2015, and has not been in trouble since.

"The remarks were thoroughly unpleasant, but no damage was caused to the taxi and there was no injury to the driver.

"Mr Keers does not enjoy the best of health."

Keers was sentenced to a community order of 18 months, 22 rehabilitation activity days, and he was ordered to pay £805 in compensation and costs.