Washington shopkeeper who was called a ‘black witch’ and punched 10 times speaks out over ‘lenient’ sentence

Sangha Convenience Store on Manor Road, Sulgrave, Washington.

Sangha Convenience Store on Manor Road, Sulgrave, Washington.

A shopkeeper says she is still scarred after her and her husband were victims of a violent and racist attack in the shop they have run for 31 years.

Baljit Sangha, who runs Sangha Convenience Store with husband Malkit, was punched in the face several times by drunken shoplifter Nadine Bedlington, before being racially abused by her boyfriend Reece Coates.

I could have easily have hit her back, but I didn’t want to take the law in my hands. She’s a fool. I’m not a fool

Baljit Sangha

Mrs Sangha hit out after both were given community orders at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, saying: “Nobody has got any right to insult me like that. They should be put behind bars for a couple of months to teach them a lesson.”

The pair had attended the shop, in Waterloo Road, Sulgrave, Washington, when Bedlington stole a bottle of Lambrini.

As Mrs Sangha gave chase, the 31-year-old punched her in the face several times.

Coates, 22, then joined the attack by shouting racist insults at Mrs Sangha, before he unsuccessfully attempted to punch her husband, who had come to her aid.

Bedlington, of Western Terrace, Concord, admitted assault and theft, and was sentenced to a six-month community order with up to 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirement, as previously reported by the Echo.

She was also fined £40 and was told to pay £85 costs, £85 victim surcharge, and £50 in compensation to Mrs Sangha.

Coates, of North Avenue, Usworth, admitted racially aggravated disorderly behaviour with intent and was sentenced to a 12-month community order and banned from entering the shop for six months.

He was also told to pay compensation of £100.

Now, after both were dealt with by a court, Mrs Sangha has spoken of her disappointment that the pair did not receive custodial sentences.

Mrs Sangha said: “She hit me. I still have a small mark, a little scar.

“I’m not happy, they should have got more, for the chaos they created in the centre that day.

“The girl hit me and it was very embarrassing in front on customers.

“We’ve been here 31 years and we have a good relationship with the community in Sulgrave, they know us.

“Nobody has got any right to insult me like that. It was so embarrassing.

“They should be put behind bars for a couple of months to teach them a lesson.

“I could have easily have hit her back, but I didn’t want to take the law in my hands. She’s a fool. I’m not a fool.”

At a hearing before Sunderland magistrates this week, prosecutor Gary Fothergill said the incident took place shortly before 7pm on March 19.

Mr Fothergill said Coates called Mrs Sangha a racial insult and Bedlington punched her 10 times in the face when she confronted her outside over the theft of the wine.

“Mr Sangha left the store to assist his wife,” Mr Fothergill added. “Mr Coates swung a punch at him and missed.”

The court heard the Sanghas then returned to their shop and called police, during which time Coates was badly assaulted in an unrelated incident.

Phillipa Wylie, defending Coates, said: “He can’t remember a lot of what happened due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed.”