Drunken lout abused taxi drivers

PUBLISHED: 11:23 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

A DRUNK who racially abused and assaulted taxi drivers in Hitchin has got a birthday present to remember - four months in jail. Grant Mason was described by a judge as being with a bunch of drunken louts who took exception to a taxi driver refusing to l

A DRUNK who racially abused and assaulted taxi drivers in Hitchin has got a birthday present to remember - four months in jail.

Grant Mason was described by a judge as being with a bunch of "drunken louts" who took exception to a taxi driver refusing to let another drunk into his car fearing he would be sick.

Mason, who appeared at Luton Crown Court on Friday - his 23rd birthday - then hurled racial abuse telling them they "should go home to their own country".

He grabbed one driver in a head lock, then flung him to the ground, and threatened to kill another, said Andrea Scott-Lynch, prosecuting.

Mason, from Hospital Road, Arlesey, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault and racially aggravated harassment at the taxi rank in Bancroft on September 9 last year.

He later told police he had drunk 15 pints, which was his normal consumption for a night out, and had little recollection of what had happened.

Stephen Akinsanya, defending, said: "Speaking as a person of colour myself I agree that people should be protected from remarks about their ethnicity, but a remark from someone who has clearly had too much to drink does not make them an inherent racist.

"He accepts what he did and regrets it. It is an unfortunate way to spend your birthday, sitting in a dock wondering if you are going to be sent to prison or not."

Judge Michael Kay QC told Mason: "You were not just drunk but you were paralytic drunk and it is said that when in drink the truth comes out.

"The assault was not the most serious but what aggravates this is the use of words like Paki, and telling them to go home. Parliament has made it quite clear that this makes it a much more serious offence.

"I am sorry it is your birthday but you must realise that you have got to sort your life out.

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