A foul-mouthed Brexiteer from Derbyshire subjected a terrified, pregnant foreign student to a volley of abuse before throwing a snowball at her and smashing her car.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on August 7 how Scott Wharton, 29, of Kinder Way, Fairfield, Buxton, targeted the frightened woman outside a One Stop store in Buxton after hearing her accent and told her: “I voted Yes to go with Brexit so what are you doing here?”
Prosecuting solicitor John Cooper said Natalia Baranlakova, from Slovakia, drove to the One Stop, on Bench Road, Buxton, to post a parcel and as she tried to leave she waved the defendant through at the door but he swore and asked her if she was Polish.
Mr Cooper added: “She said, ‘I immediately felt scared and had done nothing wrong at all. I asked him to leave me alone and he continued to shout abuse’.”
The victim also stated at the time she was six months pregnant, according to Mr Cooper, which made her even more frightened and she added: “He had been waving his hands around saying, ‘I voted Yes to go with Brexit so what are you doing here?’.”
Mr Cooper said the complainant saw Wharton bend down behind a parked car and throw a snow ball at her and as she got into her car he came towards her and made a rude gesture with his hands before kicking her car door and hitting her window.
Ms Baranlakova began pressing her car horn to attract attention, according to Mr Cooper, before a woman approached her car and began shouting for her to go.
Mr Cooper added that the complainant saw the defendant and a female getting into a car which reversed away but she noted their registration plate number and told police.
Ms Baranlakova stated: “It was an unprovoked attack and the male attacked me purely because of my accent and kept referring to me as Polish which is wrong.”
She added that she is studying for a Masters Degree and during her time in the UK she has come across mostly nice people and she had heard of problems for other non-nationals in the news but she never expected to be subjected to such abuse as a pregnant woman.
Ms Baranlakova also stated that she had been left with nightmares after her ordeal and she has chosen to move out of Buxton because she is scared of bumping into the defendant.
Wharton claimed to police that when he opened the door the complainant had insulted him and referred to him as English.
The defendant, who has previous convictions for assaults, affray and harassment, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated common assault and causing racially aggravated damage to a wing mirror, and he also admitted committing racially aggravated harassment after the incident on February 1.
Defence solicitor James Riley stressed the assault matter was a common assault where there was a threat with the throwing of a snowball but there had been no contact and the snowball had not struck the complainant.
He added: “Nothing I can say will mitigate the incident because it was horrendous and the trauma and stress this lady went through was despicable and the defendant’s actions cannot be mitigated.
“They came to the door together and they thought one was coming through and the other thought the same and something was said that aggravated the defendant which does not excuse his behaviour and he reacts to it and his reaction goes way beyond what can be legitimised.”
Wharton’s grandfather had recently died, according to Mr Riley, and the defendant had lost money through work and he has had problems with emotional control and anger management which he is now addressing.
Mr Riley said: “He fully recognises that whatever was going through his mind, the way it came out towards that lady was totally unacceptable. He does not hold any particular views of that nature and he works in the building industry alongside many Europeans and there are no issues.”
Mr Riley added: “He has child care commitments with a partner who supports him and he has a child due. He knows he let himself down, his partner down and his family. He is genuinely remorseful and wishes to apologise through me to the lady who was affected so gravely by his behaviour.
“And he hopes that she could see the person you see today is not the same person from that day.”
Magistrates described the incident as a “despicable episode” and told Wharton the matter was so serious it warranted a custodial sentence and he should be ashamed of himself to which he replied: “I am.”
However, magistrates opted to sentence Wharton to 21 weeks of custody suspended for two years and ordered him to pay £500 compensation, £350 costs, a £115 victim surcharge.
He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work with a 20 day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.