Stockbroker narrowly avoids jail sentence for racist offence

Neil Docherty at Livingston sheriff court
Neil Docherty at Livingston sheriff court
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A disgraced banker who racially abused an Asian woman on a late-night train is planning to teach English in Italy because his career is in ruins as a result of the offence.

Neil Docherty (43), shocked fellow passengers on the Glasgow to Edinburgh train by slapping a 33-year-old ethnic minority woman on the back of the head and shouting at her: “Go back to your own f***ing country” along with other racist comments.

British Transport Police used a passenger’s images and CCTV stills in a nationwide media campaign to identify the culprit.

Docherty, from Linlithgow, earlier pleaded guilty to assaulting Fella Hammach and acting in a racially and religiously aggravated manner on the train on August 28.

When he appeared for sentence at Livingston Sheriff Court on Wednesday a sheriff told him he was guilty of “shameful behaviour which would shock any right-thinking person”.

Gillian Taylor, defending, said Docherty had worked as a stockbroker for 18 years but was now claiming benefits and living off savings because his contract had been terminated.

She said: “He’s extremely distressed that he’s caused such upset to the victim and to his family, given the media attention that this has attracted. He’s punishing himself for his behaviour.

“He feels he’s not racist in the usual sense of the word, although he accepts that his actions were.

“His position is that the actions were entirely out of character for him and born out of stress, consumption of alcohol and drugs.”

She said Docherty had tried to “drown his sorrows” in a Glasgow pub and took anti-depressants given to him by a friend to “perk him up” after a job interview went badly.

She said the conviction had a “detrimental impact” on Docherty’s ability to secure work in banking and finance.

“He’s told me he’s applied for work teaching English in Italy and he has an interview for that,” she added.

Sheriff Peter Hammond told Docherty: “This was a shocking and disgraceful way to behave.

“You boarded a train late in the evening while drunk and under the influence of drugs.

“The sole reason was you felt sorry for yourself.

“You proceeded to assault a female passenger on the train who was a stranger to you by striking her on the head.

“You went on to cause distress by shouting and swearing and making offensive remarks of a racist and religiously prejudiced nature.”

Docherty’s behaviour caused such outrage that police mounted a media campaign to identify him.

The sheriff added: “Although you were aware of that, you failed to come forward.”

He imposed a community payback order, putting Docherty under supervision for nine months.

He also ordered Docherty to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and restricted his liberty by tagging him with a 9pm to 7am curfew for four months.

He warned: “If you fail to comply with any aspect of the order, because of the seriousness of the offences the alternative would be a prison sentence.”