A MOTHER-OF-TWO racially abused a post master and punched his wife, before hurling a roll of wrapping paper at them on a busy street.

Laura O’Toole, 29, became angry when her card would not work in the cash machine outside the post office in Blatchington Road, Hove.

She then started arguing with postmaster Nayan Shah, before returning and yelling “f*****g p***” at him. Passers-by then watched O’Toole punch the postmaster’s wife Dimple Shah and throw a roll of wrapping paper at his wife.

O’ Toole, of Clarendon Road, Hove, was found guilty of racially aggravated common beating, racially aggravated intentional alarm and distress and common assault at Brighton Magistrates Court.

The court heard the fracas started outside the post office on June 29 at around 9am when O’Toole shoved a man out of the way as he went to use the cash machine. She then shouted at Mr Shah because her card would not work in the machine. Mr Shah told the court she called him a ‘f*****g p***’ before she returned 10 minutes later to racially abuse him again.

Mr Shah, who is actually Indian Gujarati, told the court: “I am at the shop counter and I see her come back to use the cash machine. She then started swearing from outside into the shop telling me ‘p*** go home’ and calling me ‘c***’.

“I told her just to clear off, and I got more abuse.

“I headed towards the door and she was going absolutely mad. She was saying in my face ‘What are you going to do?’.”

Mrs Shah then came downstairs to protect her husband after hearing the abuse, before she was punched.

She told the court: “He went outside to try and get her to go away, but she carried on in his face.

“She went for my husband lunging towards him, I pulled my husband back and moved him away, and she punched me on my arm.

“She said ‘You f*****g p***, I’m going to have you.’”

The court heard passers-by were shocked watching the fracas in the street. Enya Talmey told the court she witnessed O’Toole racially abusing the couple and punching her, before throwing a roll of wrapping paper at them.

Miss Talmey told the court: “She was throwing punches at people, before the greengrocer from another shop tried to restrain her.

“At one point she picked up a roll of wrapping paper that nearly hit my daughter in the buggy. She then said to me What are you f*****g looking at?'”

The court heard O’Toole was arrested later that morning. Taking the stand she denied she used racist language, telling he court: “There was a previous time when Mr Shah was rude to me.

“I did not manage to draw money out. He was aggressive and they have a vendetta against me.’”

She pleaded not guilty to four charges, but magistrates found her guilty of racially aggravated intentional alarm and distress, racially aggravated common beating and common assault.

Sentencing has been adjourned till October 27 in Brighton, but is likely she faces a community order.


THE postmaster racially abused by a mother-of-two outside his shop said the abuse was “something else”.

Speaking to The Argus Mr Shah, who has been postmaster at the branch since 2001, said he has was shocked by the experience.

He said: “Since 1989 our family has run the shop and we have had some abuse, but not to this level.

“This was something else.”

Mr Shah said he was grateful members of the public tried to intervene in the fracas.

He said: “I was touched that the community was behind us.

“I’ve been here for a very long time and everybody does know who we are. There were quite a few people who helped us.”

The case comes as Brighton and Hove observes National Hate Crime Awareness Week. Recorded incidences of all types of hate crime are on the rise in the city, with a 32 per cent increase in hate crime compared to the equivalent quarter in the previous year, according to a city council report.