Man convicted of racist attack

A man who launched a racist attack on a Sikh supermarket manager, thinking he was a Muslim, is facing jail after being found guilty of the offence.

A man who launched a racist attack on a Sikh supermarket manager, thinking he was a Muslim, is facing jail after being found guilty of the offence.

Steven Kent, 25, from Lowestoft, turned up drunk at a Sainsbury's supermarket with Stuart Cameron and Mark Hattam two hours before it was due to open.

As they tried to force their way into the store at Harpenden, in Hertfordshire, Kent and Cameron hurled racist abuse at manager Gurminder Singh, based on their belief he was a Muslim.

When Mr Singh, known as Bobby, told them he was a Sikh, the attackers rained a flurry of blows on him, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone, the Old Bailey in London, was told.

Kent, of Kirkley Cliff Road, Lowestoft, was yesterday, found guilty of racially aggravated grievous bodily harm as well as a charge of affray for attacking another Sainsbury's employee, who rushed to help Mr Singh.

Cameron, 19, of Glemsford Drive, Harpenden, pleaded guilty to the racist attack before the trial started, but the jury cleared him of affray.

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A third man, Mark Hattam, 19, of Ranleigh Walk, Harpenden, was cleared of racially aggravated GBH, but found guilty of affray for his part in the violence. All verdicts were unanimous.

Judge Richard Hone QC remanded the trio on conditional bail and will pass sentence on March 9. The court heard how the three men were still drunk from the night before when they turned up at the store on May 28 last year.

Prosecutor Jamie De Burgos said: "They arrived in a state of intoxication. The Sainsbury's store opens at about 10am. The staff arrived for work early and the defendants appeared at the front door. They tried to force their way in by pressing on the front doors."

Mr Singh opened the door to speak to the men, but was subjected to a volley of racist abuse from Kent and Cameron followed by punches being thrown.

Witnesses saw Mr Singh being punched in the face repeatedly then kicked as he lay on the ground. His colleague David Wilson tried to pull the attackers away, but was himself punched several times in the face by Kent and Hattam, sustaining minor injuries, the court heard.

The three began to walk away, but rushed back to attack Mr Singh again when he got to his feet, it is said.

Staff managed to restrain Hattam until police arrived, but Kent and Cameron fled before being arrested in a nearby street.

Kent claimed Mr Singh had provoked the men by shouting abuse at them, but the shop manager insisted this was untrue when he gave evidence.