A MAN who racially abused a security officer at Harrogate’s Jobcentre had been emotional after an animated discussion over access to his baby son, a court was told last Thursday.
Marc Adam Hawkett, 24, pleaded guilty to using racially aggravated behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress to Shankar Jayapalan at the centre at Berkeley House, on Victoria Avenue, Harrogate. When the plea was tendered the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew a second charge claiming harassment without a racial element.
Prosecutor Kathryn Reeve said Hawkett, of Bewerley Road, Harrogate, had visited the Jobcentre at 11.45am on February 16 when Mr Jayapalan and Geoffrey Howe were operating as security guards.
The two men had been standing near the main entrance when they saw Hawkett sitting on a table nearby with his feet on a chair. When he was asked to get off his response had been a grunt and he had given the general appearance of being affronted by the polite request.
When Mr Howe repeated the request Hawkett responded slowly, standing up in an intimidatory manner. When asked to either sit down or leave he stood a short distance away glaring.
Miss Reeve said Mr Jayapalan reiterated the request for Hawkett to leave the building and he began a slow walk to the exit, still glaring and apparently annoyed. When he sat down outside he was asked to leave the area altogether.
His response had been to approach closely to Mr Jayapalan’s face and racially abuse him. He had also suggested the guard should ‘‘come round the corner and I’ll soon sort you out.’’
In a police interview Hawkett had said he had been talking to his ex-partner over child access and had been angry at the time he had been confronted by security staff.
Miss Reeve told court chairman Teresa Brooke there was other Public Order Act matters on Hawkett’s record, the last in March 2010. But none had involved any element of racism.
In mitigation Damian Walsh said Hawkett was not racist and had acted out of character after having an animated conversation on the phone trying to make arrangements to see his baby son.
His emotions had been running high and when security staff asked him to leave the building he had still been fuming and took it out on them.
After hearing that Hawkett had returned to the Jobcentre the day after his offence to offer a face-to-face apology to Mr Jayapalan, Mrs Brooke told him that because of that and his early guilty plea the court could reduce his penalty.
He was fined £80 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.