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Wednesday, 01 April 2015

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Carlisle restaurant staff rewarded for confronting racist thugs

Three workers who stood up to racist thugs as they terrorised customers at a restaurant have had their courage rewarded.

McDonald
Frm left, Lesley Mingins, Lee Clark and Vicky Wilson with High Sheriff of Cumbria Diana Matthews

All three were on duty at the Carlisle city centre branch of McDonald’s in July when the racists targeted a group of foreign students celebrating getting their university degrees.

The three workers – shift manager Lesley Mingins, 40, trainee shift manager Lee Clark, 24, and customer care assistant Vicky Wilson, 52 – did everything they could to protect the students.

Thugs Kevin O’Keefe, 19, and his pal Martin Frizzell, 20, subjected the students to a barrage of racist insults. Their tirade culminated with O’Keefe strutting aggressively around the Scotch Street restaurant, bare-chested.

He subjected three of the students to racially-aggravated common assaults, while Frizzell lobbed a bottle at the group.

But throughout the ugly incident, the three workers repeatedly tried to intervene, reasoning with the attackers and trying to defuse the situation and usher the yobs out of the restaurant.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Judge Barbara Forrester said: “Lesley, Vicky, and Lee put themselves at considerable personal risk.

“These three people put their safety to one side.”

The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Diana Matthews, presented commendation certificates to the trio.

Mrs Mingins said: “When you’re on duty, it’s your responsibility to ensure staff and customers are okay. I’m very proud of the way our staff handled it.”

O’Keefe, of Prescott Road, Longsowerby, was jailed for two years and eight months and Frizzell, of Redbank Square, Currock, for two years. Both admitted a string of racially aggravated offences.

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