Former Whitehawk football club boss who racially abused a pregnant woman has sentence cut

Court news
Court news

A former football club president who racially abused a heavily-pregnant woman in a Sussex pub has been set free by senior judges.

Christopher Patrick Gargan, 55, of Malthouse Lane, Hassocks, was jailed for four months at Brighton Crown Court on June 23.

The former president of Whitehawk Football Club, in Brighton, was convicted of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

His victim, in her 20s, is of British mixed descent, Sir Andrew Smith told London’s Appeal Court on Wednesday July 19.

Her father is Scottish and her mother British of Jamaican descent.

She was sitting in the Fiveways pub, in Ditchling Road, on April 23 last year with her husband and others, including her aunt and her two children, six and eight.

Gargan came over to their table and made a racially abusive comment.

The victim was ‘shocked’ and ‘disgusted’.

She had never before experienced such abuse and was left feeling ‘anxious and nervous’, the court heard.

In the late stages of pregnancy, the incident also made her anxious about her baby.

Sir Andrew said that her condition and the presence of the children made Gargan’s ‘nasty’ crime even worse.

But Gargan had contributed to the community through charitable work and his previous convictions were ‘too old to be relevant’.

Lawyers for Gargan accepted his crime was ‘abhorrent and utterly inappropriate’, but argued his punishment was far too tough.

And Sir Andrew, sitting with Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, agreed.

“If an immediate custodial sentence was to be imposed, it should have been very short,” said the judge.

And, reducing the sentence to six weeks, the judge concluded: “A sentence of four months was too long.”

The Appeal Court’s ruling opened the way for Gargan’s immediate release.