TWO men smashed the window of a convenience store while hurling racial abuse at the shopkeepers because they had refused to swap cans of beer for vodka.
James Monaghan and David Nicol were told by a judge that people running small businesses ‘deserve to be able to earn their living without being threatened by you.’
Both men had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of affray and racially aggravated criminal damage following the incident in August last year.
Monaghan (21) of Grange Road, Wyken, Coventry, who also admitted another racially aggravated damage charge and possessing an offensive weapon, was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £1,200 compensation.
Nicol (25) of Jeffrey Close, Bedworth, was given a 12-month community sentence and ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano also made them both subject to restraining orders banning them from going to the Costcutter store in Park Road, Bedworth.
Prosecutor Martin Liddiard said the incident began when Monaghan went into Costcutter with his mother to try to exchange some beer for a bottle of vodka.
He lost his temper when one of the shopkeepers refused, and after some ‘toing and froing’ was ushered out by his mother.
But he then rushed back in on his own and began throwing items off the shelves as well as picking up and throwing the shop’s card reader, which was damaged, while hurling racial abuse at the owners.
One of them armed himself with a golf club from behind the counter and managed to drive Monahan out of the store – only for him to return a minute or two later with Nicol.
The two shopkeepers tried to hold the door shut to stop them getting in, but Nicol managed to force his way in before being pushed back out.
Then as the shopkeepers brought the shutter down to barricade themselves inside, the two men began kicking at it while hurling more racial abuse and, despite Monahan’s mother’s efforts to push them away, smashed a window which cost £3,000 to replace.
A police officer happened to be passing and saw Monahan heading from his mother’s flat nearby back to towards the Costcutter store armed with a metal bar – and both men were arrested.
Julian Lynch, for Monahan, said: “He wasn’t drunk. He had only had one shot of vodka, which was the last of his mother’s bottle, which was why they went there.
“At around that period his girlfriend had broken up with him and was restricting his access to his son; and it may be that that led to a much shorter temper than he would normally display.
“But overall the level of violence, although unpleasant, was not serious. It was mainly shouting and throwing things. This is not a case where racial hatred motivated the behaviour.”
And Colin Charvill, for Nicol, said: “He was perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The judge told them: “The owners have been left with over £3,500 worth of damage, but also with the psychological injuries that that sort of attack causes.
“People in their position running small businesses and the people working in them are vulnerable. They deserve to be able to earn their livings without being threatened by you.”