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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 17:59 GMT
Abused surgeon hits back at judge
Dr Imraan Jhetam. Picture courtesy Express and Echo
Dr Imraan Jhetam was sworn at. Picture courtesy Express and Echo
A police surgeon who was racially abused has rejected a judge's comments that charges were out of proportion.

Matthew Stiddard, 36, of Regent Street, Dawlish, was sentenced on Monday at Exeter Crown Court for calling Dr Imraan Jhetam a "Paki".

Judge Paul Darlow told the court that it was "rather odd" that charges had been brought against the man.

He suggested Dr Jhetam "should not have taken the comment so seriously" and should have let it "roll off his back".

He told Stiddard to next time "call him a fat b...... and do not say anything about his colour".

Judge Paul Darlow
This was a single sentence to a man who should not have taken it so seriously
Judge Paul Darlow

The court heard Stiddard made the remarks to Dr Jhetam after being arrested for a public order offence in Dawlish.

While in custody, Stiddard asked to see a police surgeon after complaining of back pains.

Stiddard swore at Dr Jhetam and told him he wanted an English doctor not a "Paki".

The judge said: "This was a single sentence to a man who should not have taken it so seriously.

"He is a man of some considerable standing in society and I cannot see that it caused him any distress or hurt."

But Dr Jhetam told the BBC on Tuesday: "There is supposed to be zero tolerance of racial abuse and remarks like that leave it open for people to start making such abuse.

"Doctors and police are open to abuse in the execution of their duty, but he lunged at me and I had to retreat from the cell so the police made the decision to charge him."

'Grossly insensitive'

Jon McKenzie, a spokesman for the racial harassment support group The Monitoring Group, said the judge's comments were "irresponsible and grossly insensitive".

Devon MP Anthony Steen said: "With hindsight the judge might have put it in a different way."

The judge said in a statement after the case that he stuck by his views.

He said: "It struck me as disproportionate to have brought this particular charge on its own to the crown court.

"My comments were not intended to make light of racist remarks."

Stiddard pleaded guilty to causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, and was conditionally discharged for two years and ordered to pay 45 towards the prosecution costs of 150.



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