Prosecutors criticized for not levelling a more serious charge in racism case

The accused had racially abused a taxi driver
24th March 2011: A District judge has virtually censured the Crown Prosecution Service for not levelling a more serious charge at a man accused of racially abusing a taxi driver.
District Judge Bruce Morgan rapped the Prosecution Service for charging Scott Spragg of Selsey Close, Warndon, Worcester, with using racially abusive slurs.

Spragg, along with co-defendant Matthew Dancox, appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court in connection to the incident outside the city police station in Castle Street on Thursday, March 3.

Spragg has been fined £100 and ordered to pay £75 compensation, £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Dancox has been given 120 hours’ unpaid work and directed to pay £600 compensation and £85 costs. He was fined £100 for the cannabis.

The Judge asserted the evidence on record indicated a more serious charge of causing the driver to fear he would be attacked – an offence which could culminate in a jail term.

Judge Morgan heard accused Spragg told the driver he would come looking for him, and he knew what he looked like.

As the matter came up for hearing, Spragg, 21, admitted the use of racially abusive threatening language. Dancox, also 21, of Bankside Close, Northwick, Worcester, admitted criminal damage and possession of cannabis.

Prosecuting, Sarah Stock said the taxi driver had picked up two women and three men in St John’s, Worcester, and was taking them to Warndon.

At Castle Street, the driver identified two of his passengers as the ones who had previously not paid the fare.

The driver told them he would continue only if full fare was paid, but the group refused, resulting in a row on the amount of fare to be paid back.

Stock said Spragg got out. Going to the driver’s side, he used racially offensive language and said he knew what you look like.

Halting the prosecution evidence, the Judge said the guidelines were quite clear, that’s a threat to life because of the colour of the driver’s skin.

The evidence suggests a Section 4 offence, rather than Section 5.

Stock added as the taxi driver drove away, Dancox kicked the taxi, causing £1,000 damage.

After his arrest, Dancox admitted having £3 of cannabis on him.

Spragg in an interview said he could not remember much about the incident, but the language sounded like the kind of thing he would say. He, however, added there was nothing wrong with what he said.

Defending, Mark Sheward told the judge both men were remorseful and accepted they had done wrong.

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