Reputation of isles ‘tarnished’ by racist tirade
A man who hurled racist abuse at an Indian shopper “tarnished” Shetland’s good reputation for tolerance and understanding, a court has heard.
William Nesbit Moar Smith, 66, of Commercial Street, was fined £300 at Lerwick Sheriff Court for launching a tirade at Don Leslie’s on 19th May.
Smith’s victim was “minding his own business” when Smith made his approach.
Smith referred to the man as a “f****** Pakistani” and told him: “Get off my island”.
He was spoken to by the police the following day about the incident.
But the accused made an attempt to minimise his actions and place blame on the complainer.
Smith admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court.
He pleaded guilty to behaving aggressively, and admitted his crime was racially aggravated.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie told the court the incident had taken place after Smith, who has a problem with alcohol, had been drinking.
“The complainer was in the shop minding his own business, when the accused entered,” he said.
“The accused is someone with a drink problem, which may explain his behaviour, but does not justify it.”
He said Smith approached his victim “without any need to, or reason, other than to abuse him on the basis of his race”.
“He shouted very aggressively, whilst he was holding him by the arm.”
The fiscal said Smith was spoken to the following day by police officers.
“Although he has a drink problem, his intoxication was not so severe that he wasn’t able to try to justify and minimise his actions while he was detained by police.”
Defence agent Tommy Allan said the offence was a “matter of great regret” for Smith.
He said Smith had accepted his alcohol problem had “got out of hand” and had sought help to address the issue.
“His interpretation of what happened was that there was a discussion before he acted in the way that he did,” the agent said.
“Mr Smith, for whatever reason, took the view he was being insulted and responded in a way that was completely out of order.
“It’s something he’s not proud of at all.”
Mr Allan said he had asked Smith if there was anything he wanted to say. Smith had offered “sincere and unreserved apologies to the victim and to his family.”
Sheriff Philip Mann warned Smith he had harmed Shetland’s good reputation. “You have to realise you just can’t act like this. This is a tolerant society and Shetland particularly is a tolerant place. You mustn’t do this – it causes stress and anxiety and tarnishes the reputation of this island.”
But he said he was satisfied Smith understood that, and was hopeful his court experience would help prevent him from offending again.
The fine was reduced from £400 to reflect the early plea.