A boozed-up thug who racially abused and frightened a shopkeeper claimed he is not racist and has been trying to change after hearing Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on November 6 how Robert Clarke, 28, of Scarsdale Street, Bolsover, staggered into Balbir Bahia’s One Stop shop, on Main Street, at Carr Vale, Bolsover, swearing at him and accusing him of not being able to speak English while telling him go back to his country.
Prosecuting solicitor Becky Allsop said: “The complainant said the defendant who was clearly drunk and could not stand straight and was slurring his words wanted to buy a bottle of Stella but was refused because of his state.”
Mrs Allsop added that Clarke told Mr Bahia to go back to the Punjab, that he could not speak English, that the UK was the defendant’s country and that he was going to report the shopkeeper.
Clarke, who had a scar to his forehead and was bleeding, fell and bled on sweet tubs, according to Mrs Allsop.
Mrs Allsop said the One Stop supervisor feared Clarke was going to use violence because he lunged at him and he had to get out of his way.
A member of staff also stated she heard the defendant shouting racist abuse and swearing as Clarke’s sister was trying to get him to stand up as he was falling over.
Mr Bahia said he found the racial abuse offensive and after living in the Uk for 20 years he regards himself as British.
Clarke told police he had gone to the shop and had an argument and he had knocked over some sweets after he had drunk three cans of nine per cent lager.
He added that he could not remember making racist comments and if he had said them he was very sorry and that he is not a racist.
Clarke, who has previous convictions for offences including wounding, pleaded guilty to using racially aggravated threatening behaviour on October 20.
A probation officer stated that factory worker Clarke has been making exceptional progress after his release from a previous custodial sentence and his compliance has been excellent and he has found employment and accommodation.
She added that Clarke has also been referred to the Derbyshire Recovery Partnership to address his alcohol issues.
Defence solicitor Denney Lau said Clarke has really tried to make a difference in his life.
He added: “When he went to prison there was a moment in his life when everything clicked in. A song came on the radio and it was ‘The Man in the Mirror’.”
Mr Lau said at one point his family and friends did not want to know him but he turned his life around and a local authority even offered him a job as a learning support officer.
District Judge Andrew Davison described Clarke’s behaviour as outrageous and disgraceful but accepted that he has otherwise been moving in a positive direction.
Clarke was sentenced to 24 weeks of custody suspended for 12 months with 150 hours of unpaid work.
District Judge Davison warned Clarke that if he commits any breach of the suspended sentence order or commits any new offence he will go to prison.
Clarke was also ordered to pay £500 compensation, a £115 victim surcharge and £85 costs.