A businessman in England who was accused of spraying fire extinguisher foam and hurling racist insults at an Asian man in an Indian restaurant was sentenced to eight weeks in jail.
The incident occurred at the Indian Brasserie in the English town of South Shields on April 22, 2018. David Heslop, 36, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated causing fear of provocation or violence. Reports did not mention the date and time of Heslop’s trial, but search results on The Law Pages suggest that he appeared at the Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday.
A video recording of the incident briefly shows some of the events that occurred at the restaurant.
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“[It] was captured [in part] on a mobile phone, taken by one of the people the defendant was with that evening,” prosecutor Peter Sabiston said in court.
Sabiston also said that a group of men threw food at the victim before Heslop showed up to spray him with fire extinguisher foam. In the video of the incident, the victim can be seen sitting compliantly as racial insults are hurled at him. The prosecution claimed the man did not respond because he was frightened.
Heslop, who was previously fined for a racially aggravated public order offense in 2007, reportedly told the victim, “This is the first time you’ve been white,” after he was sprayed with the foam. He also referred to him as “grass.” Sabiston said it is still unclear why Heslop used the word “grass,” but that it suggests a potential act of “revenge.”
Heslop, a businessman from South Shields who runs a property company, denied being racist despite Judge Robert Adams saying the insults he yelled were “pretty grim” and “deeply unpleasant.”
A character reference from an imam that Heslop presented in court reportedly “outlined the help [Heslop] has given at charitable events.” The imam claimed to have “never witnessed him being racist in the years he has known him.”
Adams said Heslop “demonstrated hostility which he would not have done while sober.”
“It may be you are not, in fact, a racist person, and you will be sentenced on that basis,” he added. “You deny the offense being committed because of any hostility of a racist type.”
Heslop has been sentenced to eight weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months and given a fine of £500 (approximately $653.10).