Pensioner fined £600 after telling black woman 'when Brexit comes you will be gone'

'I was born in this country and I have lived here all my life,' says victim

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 02 July 2019 07:26 BST
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A pensioner who told a black woman “when Brexit comes you will be gone” has been fined £600.

John Keogh also admitted calling the woman a “f***ing n*****” during his tirade at a bookmakers’ in south London.

The 74-year-old initially denied being in Peckham High Street’s branch of Coral but pleaded guilty to a racially-aggravated public order offence on Monday.

Prosecutors said he “unleashed a torrent of racist abuse” because he was angered by the woman placing his £200 winnings on the counter, rather than in his hand.

“He became impatient and when he was given the money, he told her: 'When Brexit comes you will be gone',” prosecutor Jacqui Hughes told Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

John Keogh, 74, leaves Croydon Magistrates Court in south London after he was fined £600 for committing a racially aggravated offence (Jess Glass/PA Wire)

“She asked him what he meant by that and asked him to leave.”

She said Keogh called his victim, Anneka Davis, a “f***ing n*****” as he left the shop, clenching his fists as he approached her at the door and causing her to “fear for her safety”.

Staff at the branch recognised Keogh boarding a bus a few days later and reported him to the police.

Ms Davis told the court she was unable to work for five days after the incident, in August 2018, because of stress.

"Due to the comments made by the man in question, I questioned whether I was welcome in this country as a black person,” she added.

"Due to the climate and everything that is going on with Brexit, I felt that I was questioning myself and whether I belonged.

"I was born in this country and I have lived here all my life. I can't help that I was born black.”

Defending Keogh, lawyer Tariq Al-Mallak, said his client suffers from PTSD following a car accident but there was “no explanation that could justify that behaviour”.

The pensioner, of Lindsey Street in Bermondsey, admitted one count of racially-aggravated harassment and one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words and behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Chairman of the bench Douglas Hunter handed him a one-year community order and a 10-week nightly curfew.

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Keogh was ordered to pay £250 in compensation to Ms Davis, costs of £350 and was banned from the Coral shop for one year.

“People should be able to go to their place of work without fear of being abused in any way,” Mr Hunter said.

“It has had an impact on this young lady far beyond just that incident.”

The incident was the latest hate crime linked to Brexit, after police recorded a spike racist and xenophobic attacks in the wake of the 2016 referendum.

Ian Johnson, from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Shop workers should be entitled to go about their work without facing racial abuse such as this, and we hope this conviction can bring the victim, as well as her colleagues, some confidence that justice has been served.

“Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and the CPS will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit these crimes. Perpetrators may also face sterner sentences imposed by the courts to reflect the nature of the crime.”

Additional reporting by PA

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