A TAKEAWAY owner has opened up on the 'distressing' experience of being racially abused after a man was found guilty of using an offensive slur.

Appearing in the witness stand at South Cumbria Magistrates' Court, Ferdous Ahmed, of the Mithali Indian takeaway in Barrow, said he was 'upset' after he was the target of abuse.

Hugh Gaitskell, 28, was found guilty of a racially-aggravated public order offence following a trial yesterday.

The court heard the defendant and a friend were walking down Cavendish Street on May 23 when Gaitskell used an offensive term towards Mr Ahmed.

The takeaway owner told the court he had been stood in the doorway of Barrow Indian Cuisine in Cavendish Street talking to the owner of the restaurant when Gaitskell walked past and used the slur.

Mr Ahmed then immediately reported it to police officers stationed in a van on the street. Gaitskell was then arrested by police.

The defendant, who pleaded not guilty to the offence, denied he said anything to the man and merely 'looked into' the restaurant when he walked past.

Representing himself, Gaitskell insisted Mr Ahmed had 'made up the allegation' in a claim that was found to be 'implausible' by magistrates.

Giving evidence under cross-examination, Mr Ahmed said the men were walking down Cavendish Street towards Duke Street.

He said 'one of the gentleman' used the slur while around a metre away from him on the street.

He said he looked around and saw which man had spoken to him.

"It was racial abuse and I was upset about the behaviour, " he told the court.

"I felt very distressed but I left the police to deal with it."

Describing his version of events, Gaitskell told magistrates: "I looked in the shop because in the town at the time there had been posts on social media saying these shops had been attacked and stuff - I was generally being nosey.

"Nothing was said by either me or my friend."

Gaitskell said it would have been 'stupid' for him to say anything when police cars were on the street.

He claimed the victim fabricated the accusation after rumours swirled on social media that takeaway owners in Barrow had been involved in sexual exploitation, which they have denied.

Magistrates, led by chair of the bench Stephen Sim, convicted Gaitskell and fined him £840 for the offence.

The defendant, of Marsden Street, was also told to pay a victim surcharge of £84 and £400 in court costs.

Delivering the guilty verdict, Mr Sim said: "We accept the evidence given by Mr Ahmed and we found him to be credible and found no reason not to rely on his evidence.

"We believe it is totally implausible what you said and we do not accept the evidence given by you.

"I find that you did make a comment and that it was racially aggravated."