A drunk yob ripped a Sikh supermarket worker’s turban off his head for a JOKE causing the victim to be ostracised from his own community, a court heard.
Ashley Cicatello, 25, had spent the afternoon drinking beer and Jager Bomb shots when he spotted the victim in a Sainsbury’s supermarket on December 27, last year.
He told pals: “Get this on record. This is going on YouTube” before running up behind the victim and yanking the turban off his head.
Cicatello then sprinted off with it and was chased through the store before being wrestled to the ground by security guards.
He later admitted to police that he had “been an absolute prat” and had done it because he wanted to be the “class clown.”
JPs were told the Sikh father-of-two has since transferred stores after being being too ashamed to return to work.
North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard the victim – who cannot be named for legal reasons after a judge ruled that the shame of the incident had led to him being ostracised from his community – had faced the most “gratuitous degradation.”
Cicatello, from Dunkirk, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs., was convicted of religiously aggravated assault following a trial on Monday (25/2).
He had admitted assault but denied it was religiously motivated.
Carol Brown, chairman of the bench, said: “Mr Cicatello caused gratuitous degradation of the victim which has resulted in an ongoing effect on the injured party.
“This was a person working in the public sector in a public place.
“It’s our belief that the defendant demonstrated hostility to the person who wore the turban, and therefore we find him guilty.”
Sikh men are not permitted to cut their hair and must keep their heads covered.
Normally turbans are only removed in the most intimate of circumstances, when bathing the head, or washing the hair.
The victim told the court the incident had devastating consequences for him.
Giving evidence he said: “Taking a turban off a Sikh guy in public is just like hanging him in public.
“After this I was not able to face my colleagues.
“If this happened in India a man would never go to this place again, it is that disgraceful.
“My self-esteem and confidence – everything has been shattered because of this incident.”
The court heard Cicatello had gone to the store at 5pm to buy beer with three friends.
He had drunk ‘four or five pints’ and four Jager Bombs – a mixture of spirit Jagermeister and Red Bull.
He told the court: “I got dared to take the turban off his head. It was nothing to do with his religion or the colour of his skin.
“It was just being stupid. I just did it because I wanted to be the class clown.”
He told magistrates he ran off with the turban because he ‘panicked’ when he saw the anger on the victim’s face.
Nicola Bell, defending, said he was in full-time work and had not been before the courts for five years.
She said: “He is mortified by his actions. He has given a formal apology to the injured party.”
JPs heard Cicatello’s pals had filmed the attack on a mobile phone but the footage was deleted and never uploaded to the internet.
Sentence was adjourned to allow for reports to be prepared.
He was bailed to appear before the same court on March 18.