A man from Andover has been found guilty of racially aggravated assault outside a branch of Costa Coffee in Newbury.

Neil Christopher Farley, of Belmont Road, had denied the assault of Tomsz Pasternak on September 12, 2019 after an incident outside the store in Newbury Retail Park. Reading Magistrates’ Court heard that Farley told Pasternak to “f**k off back to your own country you Polish pr*ck” during the attack.

Following a trial, Deputy District Judge Clare Boichot found the 55-year-old guilty of racially aggravated assault, dismissing his claim that he was acting in self-defence as “simply not credible”.

He will be sentenced next month.

The incident occurred after Pasternak had delivered a fridge to the unit in a lorry, and was taking a legally mandated break while parked. His driver’s mate, Hayden Roberts told the court that Farley, who was collecting a skip from the adjacent Homebase, arrived in his lorry around five minutes before the end of the break, and had tried to get past their lorry.

Mr Roberts said that he offered to guide Farley through the gap, but that he declined. In his testimony, Farley said that there was “no way” he could get through.

“It was too tight and not worth the risk,” he said.

Farley then got out of his lorry and asked Pasternak to move, to which the latter said that he had five minutes left on his break and so couldn’t. Farley contended that Pasternak had not told him there were five minutes left on his break.

After entering Costa Coffee to try and get the number of Pasternak’s manager, Farley emerged and, according to Roberts, began “shouting at Tomsz that he had parked illegally and needed to f**k off”.

Mr Roberts continued, saying that Pasternak had approached Farley and that they were “in each other’s faces”. Some punches were then thrown, but he was unable to identify who had thrown the first punch as he had been trying to start recording the incident on his phone.

Farley contended that he was assaulted by Pasternak, saying that he had approached him as he left the Costa Coffee and called him “a f**king English pig”.

“He grabbed me by the shirt and I was thrown against the wall,” Farley said. “He kicked and punched me to floor, and I felt two to three blows to the neck and back. I was so afraid, as I didn’t know what he would do next.”

Meanwhile, a Costa Coffee employee had fetched her manager, Natasha Hunt, over the incident. She emerged from the store’s back door to see Pasternak having got Farley, who was wearing a high viz jacket, onto the floor.

“I could see a man kneeling on floor,” she told the court. “The man in high viz [Farley] was saying I need to call the police as the lorry was parked illegally and blocking access to next door.

"I saw he was very aggressive to the lorry driver [Pasternak], and was acting in a really terrifying way.”

In Mr Roberts’ video, which was played in court, Farley appears to attempt to punch Pasternak after being released. Farley initially said that he “didn’t punch him”, but under cross-examination said that he had “attempted to punch him but it didn’t connect”.

Pasternak returned to his lorry, and opened the window. Farley climbed onto the step of the lorry in what he said was an attempt to grab the keys and to stop Pasternak from potentially ‘grabbing a weapon’.

Ms Hunt, meanwhile, said she saw two punches thrown by Farley through the window, and that he said: “Get back here, I’m going to take your eye out”.

Her testimony was queried by defence counsel Adonis Daniel after she mentioned blood being drawn, which was not in her initial statement. She admitted that her memory ‘was clearer two years ago.’

Police arrived at the scene, where Farley was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated assault. Interviewed by PC Oxford later that day, Farley gave a no comment interview, only admitting that the man in the video footage “looked a bit like him”.

The prosecutor contended that “adverse inference” should be drawn from this lack of comment, but Farley said that he was acting on his then-solicitor’s advice.

Summing up, the prosecutor said that there was “little to support his [Farley’s] account”, and that Pasternak was “not a threat when walking away” from Farley.

In mitigation, Mr Daniels said that there was “no actual evidence of assault by beating”, and that there were “disparities” in the testimony of Ms Hunt.

“I’m sure she’s trying her best to recall what happened but she’s clearly got some things wrong,” he said.

After deliberation, Judge Boichot found Farley guilty of racially aggravated assault by beating.

She said: “There was an assault by beating. I am sure you were not acting in self-defence.”

She said that Farley’s account was “simply not credible or consistent with the footage” shown to the court, and that she had inferred from his no comment interview that there was “no account which would stand up to scrutiny at that time.”

Farley, who has previously been convicted on a number of offences, including actual bodily harm, will next appear at the same court for sentencing on September 17 at 10am. He was remanded on unconditional bail so that a probation report could be prepared.