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Racist customer tugged Tesco worker's beard and told him where to shove the Koran

Gavin Totton told Zubair Afzal: 'You don't belong here. Go back to your own country'

Gavin Totton in Kirklees Magistrates' Court

A racist thug urged a supermarket worker to “shove the Koran up your a**e” before tugging at his beard.

The appalling abuse hurled at Zubair Afzal resulted in him leaving his job of two years at Tesco in Huddersfield town centre.

Gavin Totton lost his temper when Mr Afzal asked his partner to pay for a packet of nappies that she’d failed to scan.

He denied a charge of racially or religiously aggravated common assault but was found guilty after a trial.

Alex Bozman, prosecuting, told Kirklees Magistrates’ Court that Totton and his partner were shopping at the Viaduct Street store on January 10 when the incident occurred.

Mr Afzal observed them going to the self-service checkouts.

They paid for their goods but failed to pay for a packet of nappies left on their pram.

When Mr Afzal pointed this out to them, Totton’s partner appeared shocked and went to pay for the goods.

However the 28-year-old lost his temper, forcing Mr Afzal to back away and call for help from the manager to calm him down.

Mr Bozman said: “He made remarks to Mr Afzal along the lines of: ‘Shove the Koran up your a**e’ and: ‘You don’t belong here. Go back to your own country.’

“Totton then stuck out his right hand, pulled on his chin and beard and said: ‘What’s this silly thing on your face?’”

Mr Afzal, who had worked at the store since 2015, said he felt shocked and saddened by Totton’s behaviour as he was only doing his job at the time.

Mr Bozman added: “Mr Afzal felt that he’d been singled out because of his religious faith and this has affected him to the extent that he’s had to leave the store.

“He felt vulnerable and that his only option was to relocate to a different store.

“The uncertainty about his work has distressed his family because he has financial commitments.

“He feels that he’s going to be subjected to racial abuse every time he deals with people in terms of his work.”

Tesco, Viaduct Street, Huddersfield,

Totton, of Leeds Road in Waterloo, denied the offence but was convicted following a trial during which Mr Afzal and his colleague gave evidence.

He failed to attend for the trial and appeared at the Huddersfield court in custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Zara Begum, mitigating, said that the tugging of Mr Afzal’s beard was not a serious assault but the offence was clearly aggravated by the racial language used.

She added that her client had issues with anxiety and depression but his offending had decreased dramatically in recent years.

Magistrates adjourned Totton’s sentencing until next Tuesday as he needs a full probation report.

He was bailed with the condition that he does not return to the supermarket, but the court heard that he has since been banned from the store.

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