A Rhydlewis man who racially harassed a court security officer has escaped jail.

Jay Cockburn, 31, of Rhydlewis, Llandysul, was convicted by magistrates of racially aggravated harassment after he turned on a security guard working at Aberystwyth Justice Centre.

At a sentencing hearing Swansea Crown Court heard that on June 24, 2021, Cockburn and another person had repeatedly called a security guard ‘Somalian bastard’ and told him to ‘f**k off back to your country’.

Cockburn had said some of these words with his middle finger raised.

In a victim personal statement, the court heard that Cockburn’s victim had been unable to sleep following the incident and had replayed the abuse in his head the whole night.

He said he had felt down and not himself. Hearing the words had been like a stabbing pain, and he was worried that someone else may use the same language towards him in work.

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The court heard that Cockburn had failed to attend magistrates Court for trial and that the case had been proved guilty in his absence on October 3 last year.

He then failed to attend court again on November 2 and a warrant was issued. This had happened while he was the subject of two suspended sentences issued by magistrates on February 3 and March 3 last year for drug related offences.

Cockburn’s co-defendant had pleaded guilty in September last year and was given a 16-week suspended sentence.

The court heard that 31-year-old Cockburn had 27 previous convictions for 35 offences, these included offences against the person and against property, possession of controlled drugs and being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs, production of cannabis and failure to comply with a community order.

Judge His Honour PH Thomas KC heard that Cockburn was in employment and that his employer spoke highly of him. He had also been addressing his mental health issues, and had been engaging well in drug rehabilitation work.

Judge Thomas said that Cockburn had behaved ‘quite disgracefully’ towards a court official and that it had affected both the security guard and his colleague who overheard some of the abuse.

He explained that Cockburn found himself in breach of both his suspended sentences by failing to attend hearings at the magistrates court at the end of last year.

“In my view the racially aggravated offence should attract a custodial sentence,” he said.

"I have to take into account your background, but more importantly the pre-sentence report which says that you have engaged well with your suspended sentence.

“You have worked hard with the drug and alcohol service to reduce your use of Class A drugs. You have been able to access accommodation support and manage your mental health.

“It seems to me if you were sent back to prison, all that would be undone. I am taking the unusual step of imposing another suspended sentence.”

Cockburn was sentenced to six months for the racially aggravated harassment offence and a consecutive one month for failing to surrender to police bail. He suspended the seven month sentence for 18 months.

He also ordered Cockburn to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and imposed a 30 day rehabilitation requirement.

“You have made good progress,” he said. “Don’t spoil it now.”