Shopkeeper racially abused and spat at in lottery ticket row

Cigs and Papers in Norwich

Cigs and Papers in Norwich where staff were racially abused and attacker. - Credit: Google

A man has admitted racially abusing a Norwich shopkeeper in an argument over the winnings from a lottery ticket. 

Alessandro La Pira, 40, pleaded guilty to five charges linked to a dispute at Cigs & Papers in Exchange Street which he claimed had cheated him out of £250.  

Norwich Magistrates Court heard the row saw him return to the shop three times on October 13 this year during which he racially abused staff. 

Prosecutor Lucy Miller told the court: “He was unhappy about the amount of payout that he had been given on a winning lottery ticket.

“They had an argument in the course of which he told the member of staff that Indian shopkeepers cheat people.” 

She said he later returned to the newsagents shop launching a foul-mouthed tirade during which he called the owner Devishi Godhania “an Indian thief and a bandit”. 

One a third visit La Pira continued his racial abuse and after the row spilled outside he spat in the face of Mr Godhania before spitting on a window. 

Alessandro La Pira

Alessandro La Pira who pleaded guilty to racially or religiously aggravated abuse and assault. - Credit: Simon Parkin

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La Pira, who gave his address as the YMCA in Surrey Street, had previously pleaded guilty to racially or religiously aggravated common assault at an earlier hearing. 

He also admitted using two charges of using threatening, abusive or insulting racist language during the incident and of causing criminal damage to a shop sign.

Ms Miller said the Italian national had admitted to police that he had used racist language but claimed it was “in response to being called Sicilian mafia”. He said he had spat out of anger and frustration.

Appearing for sentence on Friday, La Pira, a kitchen porter who represented himself in court, said he believed he had received the wrong lottery winnings after checking the results online. 

He said: “I am guilty and I apologise. I think my reaction was a bad reaction.”

Magistrates imposed an 18 month community order and ordered that he wear an alcohol monitoring tag that means he will be unable to drink for 120 days.

They increased the length of time his drinking will be monitored after finding his offences were racially motivated.   

He was also fined and ordered to pay the shop staff compensation.