Northern Ireland news

Man jailed for racially abusing stranger in Belfast city centre

Norman McKeown (58) directed a series of slurs at the Filipino national

A MAN who racially abused a stranger in Belfast city centre has been jailed for five months.

Norman McKeown (58) directed a series of slurs at the Filipino national he overheard speaking on the phone.

The victim also feared he was going to be hit during the encounter on July 4 this year.

McKeown, of no fixed abode, was convicted of disorderly behaviour and common assault.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard the two men came into contact while sitting on a bench in Castle Place.

Prosecutors set out how McKeown called the victim a derogatory name in an apparent mistaken belief that he was a Chinese national.

The defendant then shouted at him: "Go back to your own country."

At one stage McKeown formed a fist before repeating the abusive exhortation.

Defence counsel told the court his client suffers from alcohol issues and has limited memory of the encounter.

"It may have arisen from a misunderstanding; he thought he was being spoken to by this person," the lawyer said.

District Judge Anne Marshall described it as an "extremely unpleasant, racist incident in the city centre".

Sentencing McKeown to five months custody, she pointed out: "The injured party seemed to be sitting on a bench minding his own business when spoken to in racist terms by the defendant who also put him in fear of being struck."

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