A MAN thrust a vodka bottle into a shopper’s face in an unprovoked drunken racially-motivated attack, a court heard.

Robert Geoffrey Dixon was talking to the assistant at K & S Sun store in Tow Law when the innocent victim entered the High Street premises, at about 9.20pm on August 26, last year.

Durham Crown Court was told the visitor handed the assistant a package containing food, which he had been asked to bring by the shop owner.

But, he then went to select a brush from a display and as he returned to the counter to pay for it, Dixon stooped towards him asking where he came from.

The Sri Lankan national replied that he lived in the Stanhope area, but told Dixon of his country of origin.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said Dixon responded in an aggressive manner, telling him: “Get out, get out now. You can’t be here.”

Mr Abrahams said, “without warning”, Dixon then lashed out with the bottle he was carrying, containing vodka and cola, striking the other man in the face.

Although the bottle remained intact, the victim, whose glasses were knocked off, stepped backwards immediately feeling intense pain, before being ushered out of the premises by Dixon.

The 35-year-old victim lost three teeth in the attack and others were displaced, requiring lengthy, still ongoing costly dental treatment.

Mr Abrahams said he has spent £1,000 on the dental work carried out so far and faces a potential bill of up to £8,000 to have the full treatment required to repair the damage.

The 34-year-old defendant, formerly of Railway Street, Tow Law, who was only apprehended some months later, admitted racially-aggravated grievous bodily harm on the day of his scheduled trial.

Tony Davis, for Dixon, said since he has been on remand in custody, Dixon has sought to address his heavy drinking and substance abuse through courses available to inmates.

Mr Davis said Dixon was, “a man who is thoroughly repentant and chastened” by his actions that evening.

“He’s at a loss to understand why he did what he did. He’s used that shop for 15 years and converses with the owner, a man of Asian origin, on a near daily basis.”

Judge Jonathan Carroll said the victim had the “misfortune” to cross paths with the clearly drunken defendant when he was performing the errand, taking food for the assistant, that night.

Imposing a 41-month prison sentence, the judge added: “That man had every right to go into that shop in peace and safety.

“Yet you lashed out at him with that bottle, causing very significant damage to his mouth and teeth, for which he now faces a potential lifetime of treatment.”