Man sentenced for racially abusing call centre staff

|News, Hate crime

A 36-year-old Chorley man has been given a suspended prison sentence for abusing Vodafone call centre staff in Egypt in November 2017.

Rehmani Essa called the customer service team requesting that they port numerous mobile numbers into and then out from Vodafone to other mobile networks to allow him to sell them for profit. When the team refused to carry out his requests, he was abusive during 25 phone calls and on 24 pages of live web chat over an 11-day period.

During these communications he made threats of violence to the call handlers and also threatened to petrol bomb the Vodafone store in Chorley.

He continued to make the calls after Vodafone had issued him with a warning letter and again after he had been interviewed by the police.

Josephine Lazzari for the CPS said: "Rehmani Essa verbally abused call handlers, who were based abroad, making offensive references to their race, religion and disability. He also made threats to cause criminal damage and physical harm to staff working at his local Vodafone store in Lancashire.

"When questioned by police he admitted he had used the words deemed to be racially abusive, but stating this could not be offensive to other Muslims as he is a Muslim himself. However when he attended court, he pleaded guilty to racially/religiously aggravated harassment.

"We presented the case to the court as a hate crime based on the hostility he had used against the staff concerning their race and religion. The court, after hearing the evidence, increased the sentence from six weeks' custodial sentence to eight weeks' custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, to reflect this."

Notes to editors

  • Josephine Lazzari is a District Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West
  • Rehmani Essa was given an eight-week suspended custodial sentence with a community order, a six week curfew, and ordered to pay £85 costs and £85 Victim Surcharge.

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