A SHOP owner whose store was targeted by yobs shouting racist obscenities while unleashing a terrifying attack has revealed one of the assailants was a regular customer who he described as: ‘Very nice.’
But drunk hooded aggressors Jack McGovern, 26, and Sonny Gibbs, 25, were anything but pleasant on the day in question that landed them an appearance at Portsmouth Crown Court – with the pair narrowly sidestepping jail terms.
The men, both from Portsmouth, had stormed into Tipner newsagents Twyford News on April 25 at 8.30pm before attempting to steal beer.
McGovern and Gibbs escaped being thrown behind bars despite hurling racial slurs towards shop owner Mothilal Kailasanathan and a co-worker.
The defendants lashed out after they were spotted attempting to steal alcohol worth just under £50.
Prosecutor Matthew Lawson said: ‘The men threatened to kill the workers, kicked the doors causing £1,000 damage and were throwing punches and shouting racist language.’
CCTV played to the court showed the 10-minute attack where the men menacingly marched around the shop while buzzing in and out of the premises as they continued to hound the newsagents.
‘The defendants left the store before forcing their way back in after damaging the door, ‘ Mr Lawson said.
During the melee, CCTV revealed a lighthearted moment when two elderly ladies entered the shop and continued to do their shopping despite carnage erupting around them.
An off-duty police inspector happened to be passing the newsagents when he heard racial insults raining down on the workers before officers arrived and arrested the two men.
Gibbs had to be taken to hospital for a gash to his head suffered when shop staff attempted to repel him.
During police interview both men accepted their role in the attack. The remorse was echoed in court. Defence lawyer Daniel Reilly said of Gibbs: ‘It was inexplicable. He’s ashamed of what he did.’
McGovern’s barrister, Thomas Acworth, said: ‘He’s disgusted with the way he behaved. He was very drunk at the time. It was out of character.’
Gibbs, of Australia Close, and McGovern, of Renny Road, both admitted affray and attempted theft, while McGovern also accepted a theft charge.
Recorder John Williams told the men: ‘It’s quite clear you are ashamed and I’m confident you won’t commit any offences in the future but it must have been a dreadful experience.
‘These are people working in a shop serving the public. They should not have to put up with such behaviour.’
Gibbs and McGovern were handed nine month prison terms suspended for 18 months and told to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, as well as pay £750 compensation each to the victims.
Speaking to The News after the sentencing, Mr Kailasanathan, who has run the store for six years without any problems, said: ‘The people were unstoppable they were so drunk.
‘They came into the store and starting putting beer in a bag when we tried to stop them and they started fighting. We know one of the men very well. He used to come to the store all the time. He was normally very nice.
‘I didn’t think the punishment would be that bad but it’s up to the court. They were both very drunk.’