A DARLINGTON man has been jailed after drunkenly shouting racial abuse at an innocent bystander.

Richard Barnes, 55, of Larchfield Street, was involved in a drunken altercation with separate male when the incident occurred.

Judge Sean Morris jailed him for four months at Teesside Crown Court yesterday after hearing Barnes had previously been convicted of a similar offence.

Barnes had pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence, and elected to be sentenced in the Crown Court despite solicitors advising him that he could be sentenced in the lower court.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said police attended Outram Street in Darlington on July 15 last year.

She added: "Mr Barnes was shouting abuse. The PCSO has called for assistance and the defendant went down the alley and was shouting that he was going to kill someone.

"A passerby, a black male, was in the vicinity and he has called him a 'black b****** and n*****.

"He then became abusive to the police officers who had arrived, calling them f***** c****.

"He was under the influence. He then said he wanted to hurt himself and started to punch himself in the face while calling the officers c****.

"He went over to one PC with his arm raised and the officer thought he was going to punch him.

"He was still being aggressive while they tried to apply the handcuffs and he kicked out on the way to the van."

When interviewed Barnes said he couldn't remember anything but complained about injuries he had received while being restrained and said he was going to "take revenge", Ms Atkinson said.

Barnes had 27 previous convictions for 54 offences, including assault, robbery, possession of an imitation firearm, affray, assault on a PC and previous racially aggravated public order offence.

More recently he was convicted of being drunk and disorderly in February this year.

Ian West, in mitigation, said: "Unpleasant though this offence was, it was just drunken shouting."

He said he did not believe that even with the racially aggravated element that it was deserving of a prison term.

However Judge Morris disagreed and said: "Richard Barnes, this is the second time you have been before the court for racial abuse. It is not to be tolerated.

"You were given a fine last time and on this occasion you were using the most foul language. This is a society for people from all different backgrounds and we have to get on. If this hadn't been racially aggravated it would not have passed the custody threshold.

"You have done this before and you haven't learned your lesson. As far as I am concerned you should serve four months in prison."