Postman convicted of racism for scrawling 'Jock' on Murray posters

A postman who derided the tennis star Andy Murray as a "useless Jock" in graffiti scrawled on posters in a staff toilet has been convicted of racial abuse. Darren Swain described himself as the "Scarlet Pimpernel of the Post Office" as he defaced posters at a Royal Mail sorting office in Coventry, boasting: "You'll never catch me."

But he did not anticipate the handwriting experts who matched his pencraft to the scrawl on five posters – one of which was entitled "Dealing with Harassment Through Graffiti". That led to his arrest. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service by Coventry magistrates, after being convicted of three counts of criminal damage and two of racially aggravated criminal damage, all of which he denied.

Royal Mail managers had ordered an investigation and set up covert cameras in the area after finding racial comments on two of the posters.

Much of the graffiti left in June and July last year reflected Swain's anger at the impending closure of the Bishop Street sorting office, where he had worked for 21 years. It closed in November.

Among the messages he left in the loos, he accused the Royal Mail of ruining his life, as well as threatening to sue by signing off with the words: "See you in court."

Two more contained what the prosecution said were racial slurs, while he wrote in another: "Three weeks to steal as much as possible and send as many letters to the wrong place as possible."

He was subsequently dismissed from his job, costing him a £5,000 pay-off, according to Andris Skudra, of the defence, who called it a "very sad case". Mr Skudra said: "He has an impeccable record and is of impeccable character. He has had this hanging over him for some considerable time. When he was dismissed he lost a great deal financially. He lives alone at the moment and through this process he has been looking after his father who is suffering from stomach cancer. My client does not receive benefits."

But Magistrate Norman Wainwright, chairman of the bench, said: "We have had particular regard for the racially aggravated elements of this case. We have decided that it is serious enough for us to impose a community sentence."

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