Berkhamsted man hurled homophobic abuse at pub landlord

editorial image

An unemployed dad-of-one has been fitted with an electronic tag and given a curfew as punishment for hurling a string of homophobic insults at a pub landlord.

David Gurney, 46, of Woodlands Avenue, Berkhamsted, called Nigel Wilkes a ‘f***ing gay, bum boy, shirt-lifter, queer and paedophile’, St Albans Magistrates Court heard on Friday.

Just before his outburst on Tuesday, March 20, Mr Wilkes, who manages The Rising Sun in Berkhamsted, had refused to serve Gurney.

As Mr Wilkes and his partner ushered Gurney out of the pub, where he is barred, he shouted ‘gay’ and ‘queer boy’, the court heard.

Defence solicitor David Martin said: “Mr Gurney is not a homophobe. He’s deeply ashamed of the regrettable outburst and says it was just inarticulate swearing. He had no motive to cause hurt.”

The court heard that Gurney also called Mr Wilkes ‘gay’ and ‘queer boy’ after bumping into him outside Bobbys Convenience Store in Berkhamsted High Street on Tuesday, April 10.

Mr Martin said this had begun as an attempt to ‘clear the air’, adding that Gurney feels ‘regret and shame’ for his ‘disgraceful’ language.

Mr Martin said: “Bare in mind that this is very much words rather than physical behaviour.”

The court heard that Gurney has not been in trouble with the law since 2003, and now has a wife and a 10-year-old diabetic daughter.

Mr Martin said: “These matters are a blip in a man who has been trying to get his life together and avoid low-level offending.”

Gurney has been unemployed since April 2010 and receives benefits including disability living allowance.

Gurney pleaded guilty to both offences of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Chief magistrate Paul Hinson said: “We feel this matter is extremely serious.

“People should be allowed to go about in their place of work and walk around the High Street without being harangued by people.”

Gurney was given a 10-week curfew to stay at home between 8pm and 8am after being fitted with an electronic tag.

He was ordered to pay £250 in compensation to Mr Wilkes and £87 in costs, and given a two-year restraining order banning him from visting The Rising Sun pub or contacting Mr Wilkes.