A CUSTOMER hurled race-hate abuse at a shopkeeper after he was refused the sale of alcohol.
Michael Mullen threatened to attack the worker at a late- night petrol station during the confrontation last April.
Newcastle Crown Court heard an off-duty police worker came across the scene and was also abused while he tried to bring the incident to an end.
Prosecutor Vince Ward told the court Mullen, 21, had gone into the garage and purchased goods but was refused his request for alcohol because he appeared to be in the company of underage people.
Mr Ward said: “When the defendant asked for alcohol and was refused he reacted aggressively.
“There was a number of insults levelled at the shop worker in relation to his race.”
Mullen, of Lily Crescent, Whitburn, admitted a racially aggravated public order offence.
Mr Recorder Neil Davey QC sentenced him to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with supervision.
The judge said: “People like him form a valuable public service, keeping shops open for the benefit of the public at night.
“They are always prey for people who steal from them or yobs like you who think it’s a good idea to abuse them.
“It is a problem shopkeepers have to put up with but there is no reason why they should put up with it.