Worthing man convicted of disablist and religious hate crimes following supermarket incident

A Worthing man who made abusive comments after supermarket staff refused to sell him alcohol has been convicted of disablist and religious hate crimes.

John Stahl, of Wallace Avenue, attempted to purchase alcohol from the Tesco Extra at Durrington around 11.30pm on Saturday 1 June, according to a police spokesman.

Worthing Magistrates Court

Worthing Magistrates Court

However, due to his demeanour and behaviour, he was refused.

The 45-year-old, who is unemployed, became aggressive and was restrained by staff, until the arrival of the police, the spokesman said.

During the incident he assaulted a member of staff, and made a number of abusive and hate-based comments to people nearby, including a wheelchair user, confirmed the spokesman.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with assault and two counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment alarm or distress – one of which was religiously aggravated, and one of which was disability aggravated, police said.

Stahl pleaded guilty to all three offences and at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 19 November and was sentenced to a 12-month community order, consisting of a rehabilitation activity requirement, which includes completing 100 hours of unpaid work, confirmed police.

He was also ordered to pay a £50 fine, £85 victim surcharge and £85 costs, said police.

The court would have issued a conditional discharge, but imposed the fine due to the religious hate element, according to the spokesman.

The court also increased the numbers of hours of unpaid work from 80 to 100, due to the disablist hate element.

Peter Allan, Adur, Worthing and Horsham Prevention Sergeant, said: “I am pleased that the court deemed the offences to be hate related and used the powers available to them to increase the sentence imposed.

“It is especially pleasing as disablist hate crime is recognised as being significantly under-reported.

“The sentence imposed in this case demonstrates the seriousness with which Sussex Police and the wider criminal justice system takes such behaviour.

“I hope the sentence sends a clear message to those who are victims of hate crime, that we will take the matter seriously and seek to hold the perpetrators of such a personal crime to account.

“Hate crime can be reported online or by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

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