COUNTY NEWS: Businessman jailed for '˜abhorrent' racial abuse of young woman

A company director, who was co-owner of Whitehawk Football Club, has been sentenced to four months in prison for racially abusing a heavily-pregnant young woman in a pub

Brighton law courts
Brighton law courts

Christopher Gargan, 55, of Malthouse Lane, Hurstpierpoint, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Friday (June 23), having been found guilty of causing ‘racially aggravated alarm and harassment’ to a 24-year-old woman from Tunbridge Wells.

The incident took place in a Brighton pub on Ditchling Road on April 23 last year, police said.

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Officers said the victim, a young woman of Jamaican background, who was also eight months pregnant, had been sitting quietly with her partner and family in the pub when Gargan, a complete stranger to her, came up behind her and racially insulted her.

Police said she and her family were shocked and felt unable to complain at the time, but contacted the police that evening, and enquiries were immediately begun at the pub. This led to the identification of Gargan as the offender, officers said.

In sentencing, Judge Anthony Niblett said the word used was ‘totally abhorrent and had no place in today’s society’.

He also told Gargan that his standing in society had ‘made him think he was above the law’.

PC Chris Clarke said; “Gargan denied the offence throughout and it was only the steadfast evidence of the victim and family, together with CCTV from the pub, that enabled justice to be done. Such behaviour is offensive and will always be investigated.

“This sentence sends out a clear signal that we will take a robust approach to those who target individuals based on their disability, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation. I hope this case will encourage other victims of hate to report such behaviour to the police.

“Hate crime can be reported to us online or by calling 01273 470101, or 999 in an emergency.”

A statement from Whitehawk FC said: “In the light of recent media reports Whitehawk Football Club have taken steps and can confirm that Christopher Gargan is no longer associated with the club in any capacity with immediate effect. Full statement to follow.