Letchworth serial offender jailed for racially abusing man at Stevenage railway station

Cottam was given an eight-week prison sentence.

Cottam was given an eight-week prison sentence. - Credit: Archant

A serial offender who racially abused a man at a railway station and swore at a magistrate in court has been jailed for eight weeks.

Andrew Cottam, of Bursland in Letchworth, pleaded guilty to racially abusing Darryl Hatfield-Shaw at Stevenage railway station on October 3 when he appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Mr Hatfield-Shaw saw Cottam, who has 75 convictions, approach various members of the public in an unpleasant manner at around 11.30pm on the evening. He said he was swaying and appeared to be drunk and, after he went up to a group of women, said he overhead Cottam calling one of them a “bitch”.

Mr Hatfield-Shaw then stopped the 46-year-old but let him passed after he was threatened for fear of a physical confrontation.

As Cottam was walking down the platform he was shouted racial abuse.

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The police were then called and Sgt David Barker arrived at the station just before midnight. He approached Cottam who refused to give him his name and kept saying ‘check the CCTV’.

Sgt Barker arrested unemployed Cottam shortly afterwards.

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When he entered the court Cottam refused to enter a plea and then swore at chairman of the bench, Mr Pollard, and said: “I can prove all of this is lies. I’m going to the Home Office and I’m going to appeal this to the High Court.”

Mr Pollard then held Cottam in contempt of court for his behaviour and told him he would spend the trial in the cells unless he apologised.

The case was then adjourned while Cottam, who lives with his mother, talked to his barrister. When they arrived back she announced that he had sacked his solicitor meaning she could no longer carry on with the case.

The trial was then due to go ahead with Cottam representing himself, but a duty solicitor had to be found for him to question the three witnesses on his behalf after the prosecution were granted an order banning him speaking to them – because of possible intimidation.

When the court was recalled Cottam had a new solicitor and changed his plea to guilty.

He said: “I am very sorry for what I said this morning. I have got brain difficulties and it gets to my head so I am very sorry for what I said.”

Mr Pollard accepted his apology and when sentencing him said: “This crime was a most unpleasant, racially aggravated, and sustained offence.” He gave Cottam an eight-week jail term reduced from 10 weeks because of his late guilty plea and ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge.

As he left the dock Cottam swore under his breath.

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