23rd May 2018
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Fined for using the ‘most racist’ language

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When Thomas Max Gifford spotted a black man in the pub where he was drinking he poked fun at him and called him a “ni**er”.

But his racist antics meant Gifford, 20, of Islesburgh, Sullom had rough justice meted out to him in return.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court today Gifford admitted pointing and laughing at his victim at Da Noost and picking up a fire extinguisher in a threatening manner during a night of drinking on 28th December.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Gifford used the racist term when the victim’s friends intervened and stood in front of him.

“Mr Gifford picked on the wrong man to be abusing in that way. Not to put too fine a point to it, he got a thrashing for his trouble,” said Mr MacKenzie.

“It’s accepted he is not overtly racist, but this is the most racist of racist terms.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said there had been a history between Gifford and the man he had racially abused.

“Although he accepts he was pointing and laughing, it was coming the other way as well.”

He emphasised that the only physical violence used was against Gifford himself.

Mr Allan described a subsequent loss of memory which Gifford had suffered in the aftermath of the incident.

He added Gifford had recounted noticing a strange smell in his home and realising he had placed a pizza in the oven two hours beforehand.

“But for the word used this may have been a tit-for-tat confrontation.”

Gifford also landed in hot water for driving around the town with an air pistol in his car.

Sentence had been deferred after he admitted unlawfully having the Webley Nemesis on 24th January, breaching a bail order.

Police officers seeking to carry out a drugs search stopped Gifford on Lerwick’s Esplanade and discovered the weapon in the car’s foot-well.

Mr MacKenzie said it demonstrated Gifford’s immaturity, that he seemed to get some excitement from possessing the air pistol.

Mr Allan said Gifford had been “going from A to B” with the air pistol, and had to accept he had fallen foul of the legislation.

But he emphasised it was an air pistol and not a more powerful weapon.

Referring to the racist incident, sheriff Philip Mann said: “Acting in this manner is quite unacceptable no matter what the provocation involved.”

He fined Gifford a total of £340 and ordered forfeiture of the air pistol – despite a protestation from Gifford it had belonged to his grandfather, and was used on the croft for shooting rabbits.

• A trial has had to be adjourned at Lerwick Sheriff Court because of a shortage of hotel rooms available in the isles.

The shortage of beds means the case against Amanda Williamson, 26, of Sandveien – which was due to be part heard today – will now not take place until 24th July.

Williamson is accused of acting in a racially aggravated manner at the Harbour Chip Shop on 3rd March.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie told the court there was nowhere available for the single witness in the trial to stay.

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