14th August 2018
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Man faces possible jail sentence after threatening to burn down chip shop

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A man who threatened to burn down a chip shop after drunkenly branding its proprietor a “paki” could be facing a custodial sentence.

Owen Haughian, 29, of Runnadale, Ollaberry, made racist remarks after ordering food from the Harbour Chip Shop in Lerwick on Friday night.

The police were called when he became abusive. But once at the station he threw himself to the floor, feigning unconsciousness.

Haughian dug an even deeper hole after an ambulance was called. On the way to the Gilbert Bain Hospital for supposed treatment, he complained he felt sick. But he threw away a bowl he was given and spat on the ambulance floor, before also calling the driver a “paki”.

Appearing from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court today, Haughian admitted behaving in a threatening and racially aggravated manner.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Haughian had turned up at the chip shop at around 10.30pm on Friday Once served his food he began calling the woman “a Paki”. He said that he was going to have the shop closed down. When asked how, he said he was going to burn the place down.

Mr MacKenzie added the woman had been faced with racist incidents before Haughian’s antics. “This is not the first time she has had to deal with racial abuse. She finds it very difficult to contend with that sort of behaviour.”

Once at the police station Haughian deliberately fell to the floor. An ambulance was called but Haughian became abusive towards the driver, calling him a “paki” even though he was not of Pakistani origin.

The court heard Haughian had insisted he was not a racist – he even has a partner from Thailand. But Mr MacKenzie said: “He has difficulty with drink, but maybe that drinking serves to reveal a rather unpleasant side to his character.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Haughian was “mortified” and “ashamed” by his actions. “He offers no excuses for this kind of conduct,” Mr Allan said.

As well as being engaged to a Thai woman, Mr Allan said fish worker Haughian happily worked alongside people of different nationalities and skin colours.

He said Haughian had been drinking “way too much”. He had also been experiencing problems in his family, although he did not offer that as an excuse for his behaviour.

Releasing Haughian on bail, sheriff Philip Mann deferred sentence for background reports, but ordered he stay away from the take-away.

“There is the possibility of a custodial sentence, such is the seriousness of offences of these nature,” the sheriff said.

Haughian will appear in court again on 22nd August.

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