Father of 17 spared jail after racially abusing kebab shop staff
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A man who harassed his neighbour and hurled racist abuse towards staff at a nearby kebab shop was spared prison after revealing he has 17 children who depend on him.
Robert Burlingham, 54, of London Road South, Lowestoft, was sentenced at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court on January 6 over two incidents of racially aggravated intentional harassment on June 5 and June 9, 2020.
He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Stacie Cossey, prosecuting, said: "On June 9, at 4.45pm, Mr Burlingham's neighbour called the police claiming he was swearing and being verbally abusive while standing on the steps of the Kings Kebab shop on Lowestoft Road South.
"He was shouting at the staff: "Go back to your own country, you don't belong here" and "this is my country", as well as other racial slurs."
She added that four days earlier, on June 5, Burlingham again verbally and racially abused staff members, telling the owner he would "smash his windows in".
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Ms Cossey said Burlingham is a "constant nuisance" for the staff, shouting "don't go in there, they're all Turkish" when customers approach and asking employees to "show me your passport".
The defendant's neighbour, meanwhile, said in a victim impact statement that she "doesn't feel safe in her own home" because of his behaviour.
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It read: "Since Bob moved into my block my entire life has changed. I've become a shell.
"He's even affected my sleep pattern because he gets up at 2am to go outside and feed the rats and seagulls, which he announces he's doing."
Alison Armstrong, mitigating, said Burlingham has been a lifelong alcoholic, and at the time suffered a relapse because of the death of one son-in-law to cancer and another to a stroke.
She said this was "essentially a nightmare neighbours story" - but that Burlingham wants to address his alcoholism because he has 17 children.
"Ten of them live with his terminally-ill ex-partner", she said, "and since it's likely she won't be with us much longer Bob will have to care for them."
She added that Burlingham wants to leave the area and buy a house in Loddon.
Chairman of the bench Geoffrey Dyatt said the offence reached the custodial threshold, but that Burlingham would be given a 12-month suspended sentence to avoid prison.
He was ordered to pay £128 compensation to his neighbour, and carry out 20 days of rehabilitative activity.