Race claim rejected as nurse jailed for assault

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The Independent Online
A nursery nurse who attacked a 67-year-old retired general in a row over a taxi was jailed for 12 months yesterday.

Major General Richard Gerrard-Wright had his glasses smashed and was wounded in the eye by a punch from 21-year-old Debbie Blaize, who was branded a liar after claiming that she was provoked by racial abuse - a claim the general strongly denied. Judge Christopher Hardy told Southwark Crown Court that she had "cynically" used the "race card" in a bid to escape the results of her actions.

Blaize, of Southwark, south east London, was found guilty of assaulting Maj-Gen Gerrard-Wright on 8 June last year, causing him actual bodily harm.

The court was told that the general, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, had been in London on the night of the attack to celebrate his wife Susan's birthday. They waited 30 minutes in a taxi queue at Victoria Station for a cab to take them to Fulham where they were staying with friends. Judge Hardy said that in a "boorish display of behaviour" Blaize had jumped the queue, putting cabbies off stopping and annoying everyone waiting.

He told her: "The general quite correctly remonstrated with you for your behaviour firmly and fairly by tapping your shoulder and asking you to go to the back of the queue. I am quite satisfied he had the moral support of everyone else in the queue for what he did. Your response was to turn round and deliver a mighty blow which knocked him to the ground." While the general was on his knees with blood pouring from his cheek, Blaize went back "to take a kick at his face".

The judge added: "What has happened in your defence is the sort of thing, unfortunately, happening increasingly in the experience of the courts when a defendant appears from an ethnic minority. You quite cynically and dishonestly decided to play the race card, seeking to get ... sympathy ... and in an attempt to undermine the good name of your victim, by alleging he had subjected you to a sustained period of racial abuse."

The judge said he was "quite satisfied" Blaize's allegation was completely unfounded - and was also satisfied the jury "containing several members of ethnic minorities" had also disregarded the claim.