A man has been jailed for racially abusing and spitting toward a family visiting Bridport

Daniel Lavery, aged 39 and of South Walk, Bridport, was sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court  after admitting offences of using racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of or provoke unlawful violence and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress. He was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.

At around 2.35pm on Friday 11 September 2020 Dorset Police was called to an incident outside Waitrose in West Street

It was reported that a family who were originally from the Philippines, but lived in Reading and were visiting Bridport, were standing outside the store when they were approached by the defendant. He shouted racial abuse at them before putting some crisps in his mouth, chewing them and then spitting them in the direction of the family.

Lavery walked off along West Street and police were contacted. Officers attended and the defendant was arrested.

When questioned by officers in custody he claimed he could not remember what had happened because he was so drunk.

Neighbourhood Inspector Darren Stanton, of West Dorset police, said: “This was an extremely distressing incident for the victims who are residents of this country and came to visit Bridport to experience what the town has to offer. 

“Due to the small minded actions of one individual, their experience will have been an extremely negative one that is likely to have left them will feeling shocked, angry and upset.

Dorset Police is committed to tackling hate crime in our communities and we will do all we can to ensure offenders such as Daniel Lavery are identified and brought to justice.”

Officers liaised with the Dorset Race Equality Council as part of the court process and it provided a statement to be considered by the magistrates adjudicating on the case.

The statement said: “The couple in question were holidaying in Bridport and were having a nice family time in Dorset. They were certainly not expecting to be verbally abused and spat at by an individual who was drunk and who broke all the guidance on social distancing during a time of international pandemic.” 

The statement added: “If we all want to eradicate hate incidents and hate crimes and make Dorset a prejudice free area, we need to send strong messages that those incidents will not be tolerated.”

Cllr Dave Rickard, Leader of Bridport Town Council said: “Speaking on behalf of Bridport Town Council we are all appalled to hear of this incident, which was a disgrace at so many levels.  It is in no way representative of the tolerant and inclusive Bridport we know and love.  

“We are proud of the way we welcome visitors, we are proud of our status as England’s first ‘Rights Respecting Town’ and we are grateful to the local police for dealing with this incident in a swift and efficient manner.”