Irate Vodafone customer made 'racist threats' to Egyptian call centre staff and threatened to petrol bomb a Chorley phone shop

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An angry mobile phone user has been given a suspended jail term after hurling racist abuse during 25 phone calls and on 24 pages of live web chat to call centre staff

Rehmani Essa, from Chorley, called the firm’s customer service team requesting that they port numerous mobile numbers into and then out from Vodafone to other mobile networks in order to allow him to sell them for profit.

Vodafone, Chorley

Vodafone, Chorley

When the team refused to carry out his requests, the would-be entrepreneur became abusive.

Preston magistrates heard Essa, of Carrington Road, Chorley, hurled insults during phone calls and live web chat over an 11 day period in November 2017.

Prosecutors said during these communications he made threats of violence to the call handlers, based at a call centre in Egypt, and also threatened to “petrol bomb” the Vodafone store in Chorley.

The 36-year-old continued to make the calls after Vodafone had issued him with a warning letter and again after he had been interviewed by the police.

Josephine Lazzari, a District Crown Prosecutor for the North West CPS, said: “Rehmani Essa verbally abused call handlers, who were based abroad, making offensive references to their race, religion and disability. He also made threats to cause criminal damage and physical harm to staff working at his local Vodafone store in Lancashire.

“When questioned by police he admitted he had used the words deemed to be racially abusive, but stating this could not be offensive to other Muslims as he is a Muslim himself. However when he attended court, he pleaded guilty to racially/religiously aggravated harassment.

“We presented the case to the court as a hate crime based on the hostility he had used against the staff concerning their race and religion. The court, after hearing the evidence, increased the sentence from a six weeks custodial sentence to an eight weeks custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, to reflect this.”

Essa was also given a community order, a curfew, and must pay £85 costs and an £85 surcharge.