Drunken yob who abused passengers and conductor given chance to mend his ways

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

A DRUNKEN yob who abused passengers at a train station and attacked a conductor was warned he will be jailed unless he stays off alcohol.

Kirk Birdsall faced prison for breaching a suspended sentence twice within a month of it being imposed at Teesside Crown Court in September.

The 25-year-old lout stole a bottle of booze from a shop in Eastbourne Road, Darlington, and a £17 t-shirt from TK Maxx in the town centre.

Just weeks earlier, Birdsall dodged prison for the apparent racially-motivated attack on the train guard and the racist abuse of two travellers.

The court heard that along with a friend, he first confronted two separate black men at Darlington railway station while carrying a bottle of vodka.

On the London-bound train, they told the conductor they did not have tickets, were intending to travel north and refused to get off at the next stop.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs told the court that the drunken pair upset other passengers with their aggression and chased the guard through the carriages.

When the service pulled into Northallerton and the official got onto the platform, he was assaulted by both men and told: “Go back to your own country.”

Mrs Jacobs said he feared the bottle might be used against him and was left shocked with bumps, bruised and a cut thumb from the assault.

Birdsall, of Gurney Street, Darlington, also stole a t-shirt and a quantity of alcohol during two other shop thefts in the summer.

For the thefts, assault and affray, he was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, when he appeared in court on September 3.

The other incidents of shoplifting were at K&H Premier Stores on September 22 and TK Maxx on October 2, Mrs Jacobs told Judge Peter Armstrong.

Andrew White, mitigating, said Birdsall had recently sought help for his drink problem and had got a temporary job in a warehouse.

He said he had also gained qualifications in maths and English and had been promised a job on the rigs which could start in the new year.

“These are all hopeful signs,” said Mr White. “Virtually all of his offences have been caused by the consumption of alcohol.

“I readily accept he has a very poor record. He is thoroughly remorseful and regrets his actions. He has not had a drop of alcohol for four weeks.”

Mr White described Birdsall's offences as “stupid” and told the court: “For the first time in a long time he has taken steps to put his life on the right track.”

Birdsall, who admitted the two thefts, had his sentence deferred for six months to “test if your new-found resolve is right”.

Judge Armstrong told him he will be jailed unless he stays off alcohol, keeps out of trouble, sticks with his job and saves up to pay compensation.

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