Thug jailed after street attack on Iranian man left him with a broken jaw
A man who punched and racially abused an Iranian in the street leaving him with a broken jaw has been jailed.
John Gray claimed the victim had insulted his girlfriend.
Gray was jailed for 44 months for the attack, and for two burglaries.
Prosecutor Phillip Morley told Teesside Crown Court the assault victim was walking in Derwent Street in Hartlepool when he was attacked.
"He and a friend had been to a Sainsbury's store," said Mr Morley.
"Gray passed the two men, stopped, and called them over
"He brandished a knife at his victim, although the knife was not used.
"The victim was the punched in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.
"During the assault Gray used racist language, calling the victim a racist name."
The court heard the victim suffered a fractured cheek.
"He said he was shocked and distressed to be attacked," said Mr Morley.
"He went on to say he has come to this country to seek a better life than he could have had in Iran, and he was determined to be a good and hardworking citizen."
Gray later broke into the Reach Out Recovery Centre and the West End Social Club, both in Hartlepool.
"He stole a television, laptop computer, and a phone from the centre," said Mr Morley.
"These items were valued at £848.
"Managers there say they are a charity, and the cost of replacing the items will have to come from money that could be better used elsewhere.
"Entry to the social club was gained through the bar's ceiling.
"About £320 cash and some other items from the bar were taken.
"The manageress said the club was already struggling financially, so could ill-afford the losses and costs of repairs."
Gray, 24, formerly of Derwent Street, Hartlepool, admitted racially aggravated grievous bodily harm on October 25, and he admitted burglary on October 29 and November 1, all last year.
He admitted being in breach of a suspended sentence for dangerous driving.
Stephen Constantine, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Gray had formed the impression the victim of the assault had made disparaging remarks about his girlfriend.
"In that respect, the assault was not racially motivated.
"In the heat of the moment he used language of which he is thoroughly ashamed.
"The burglaries were committed when Mr Gray had lapsed back into abuse of Valium.
"Since being on remand he has done several courses to address his drug problems.
"Mr Gray has a young son, and he is keen to be allowed full access to him."
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton jailed Gray for 44 months.
The judge told him: "I accept the attack was not racially motivated, but you punched this man hard enough to break his jaw.
"Your use of racist language aggravated the offence, as did the fact you had a knife.
"Any offence involving a knife will be taken seriously in today's climate."