A FORMER soldier hurled racist abuse at a café worker and injured a policeman so badly the officer could not resume full duties for weeks, York Crown Court heard.

Abit Hussain was working at Upper Crust bar in York Station when Malcolm Swift, 54, asked his nationality, said Chris Hassall, prosecuting.

When Mr Hussain said “British”, Swift disagreed, swore at him, and claimed immigrants were taking British jobs.

When British Transport Police officer Craig Verco tried to deal with him, Swift claimed his years in the Army gave him the right to refuse to give his details.

He then fought off attempts to handcuff him, injured the policeman’s thumb so badly it was in a cast for 14 weeks and later claimed the police officer had slammed him against a wall without notice.

The officer was off work for four days and on restricted duties for some months after returning to work, the court heard.

Recorder Paul Watson QC said: “There is really no excuse for this sort of behaviour. Only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

But he suspended the nine-month prison sentence for 12 months on condition Swift did a 12-month supervision order.

Swift, of The Grove, Norton , pleaded guilty to racist abuse and causing actual bodily harm.

Swift’s barrister, Colin Dunn, said the ex-soldier was still suffering psychologically from his periods of active service in the Army in the 1970s and 1980s.

The court was told Swift had managed to get employment, but was then diagnosed with epilepsy.

That led to him drinking and his life “spiralling out of control”.

Swift’s life was now “very fragile, but stable, said Mr Dunn.

“As much as he needs to be punished, he needs to be helped and supported,” said Mr Dunn.

Mr Hassall said Swift had been on a blind date and drunk half a bottle of wine and a couple of beers before going to York Station shortly before 5pm on October 14 last year.