A company director sprayed an Asian man with fire extinguisher foam and called him horrible racist names after being bombarded with food.
Cellphone footage shows the frightened victim having food thrown off-camera before David Heslop appeared on screen and discharged the fire extinguisher into his face and body. A court heard he called the man racist names and, as the moss covered him, he said ‘this is the first time you’ve been white’ and also called him weed.
Heslop, 36, of Rubens Avenue, South Shields, whose prior convictions including a racially aggravated public order offence, pleaded guilty to fear of racially aggravated provocation or violence. But he denies being a racist and a judge at Newcastle Crown Court said he would convict him on the grounds that he was not.
The court heard the incident took place at the Indian Brewery, South Shields on April 22, 2018. Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said: ‘The incident, in part, was captured on a mobile phone , taken by one of the people the accused was with that evening.
“There is a lone man experiencing the defendant’s behavior, who appears to be of Asian descent. He was covered in food, bombarded with food. He sits passively despite audible racial slurs. Prosecution says his inability to react it is because of intimidation.
“The accused appears on screen and discharges a fire extinguisher at his body and face.”
Judge Robert Adams said it was ‘a pretty grim transcript of what was said’ and that Heslop originally denied the offense as he said he was not a racist but that “based on what is revealed in the footage, it’s hard to see what the defense might have been.” He told Heslop: “It was a deeply unpleasant exchange between you and the victim.
“There’s clearly some sort of background on someone who’s a weed. We don’t know what the background is, but on the face of it, it doesn’t help you.” The judge said the comment that he was a “weed” may have been the main motivation for the offence.
He said the offense demonstrated a hostility he would not have committed while sober and added: “You may not in fact be a racist person and you will be convicted on that basis. You deny the offense committed because of any hostility of a racist kind.”
The court heard Heslop was fined for a racially aggravated public order offense in 2007 and also had convictions for assault and drunkenness on a plane.
For the latest offence, he was given an eight-week suspended sentence for 12 months and must pay £500 in costs.
Christopher Knox, defending, said: “He is a director of a commercial property company in South Shields.” Heslop provided the court with a letter from an imam saying he had known him for eight years through the car trade and charity events and had never seen him be a racist.