A DRUNK Iraqi man burst into a Methodist Church mid-service on a Sunday afternoon, marched to the front and started shouting and swearing at the congregation, a court heard.

Zana Hussan said he hated the English before walking into the church in Barnard Castle during the service. After police arrested him he told them “I will f****** kill you and kill all the English bastards”.

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The 29-year-old, from Bishop Auckland, admitted the racially aggravated public order offence, which took place on July 9, when he appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe yesterday.

Ansab Shan, prosecuting, said a witness was outside the church with his children when he saw the defendant on a bench talking loudly and becoming aggressive.

"The witness heard him talking about Iraq and his hatred of the English and he was swearing.

"The defendant then walked into the church and even though the service had started he walked straight to the front and began shouting and swearing. Members of the congregation, which included children, were clearly upset by the defendant's actions.

"The witness, along with other worshippers, tried to escort him outside the church.

"After a short while police also arrived and arrested the defendant. The defendant then became more aggressive and abusive and began shouting “I will f***** kill you and kill all the English bastards. He made references to the war in Iraq."

Mitigating, Ben Pagman said Hassan had been in the UK since 2008 but he was "effectively here illegally without permission to remain".

He said because he had no National Insurance number he could not work, or claim benefits.

"On this day in question he had gone to Barnard Castle for a day out," he said. "He got himself drunk, as he has done in the past. He saw a congregation outside the church, has gone across and accepts the comments attributed to him.

“The court may regard this as perhaps not at the sinister end while clearly extremely distressing for the people who witnessed it, but more representative of the frustrations and drunken ramblings of a man who finds himself in a position that I have already described, unable to work or claim benefits.

Magistrates thought the offence was more serious than was reflected in the charge and asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review the charge, but this was denied.

Bench chairman Nick Edger imposed an 18-month conditional discharge and a two-year restraining order banning Hassan from coming within 100 metres of the Methodist Church on Galgate, Barnard Castle. He said: "With regards to sentence, our hands as a bench are tied."