Humbling of pub boss, Mark Lester, who racially abused customer in Admiral Jellicoe, High Street, Canvey

Echo: Mark Lester pictured in December at the Admiral Jellicoe Mark Lester pictured in December at the Admiral Jellicoe

A FORMER Canvey landlord will have to carry out unpaid work after admitting using racial slurs in his pub and “accidentally” on Facebook.

Mark Lester, who ran the Admiral Jellicoe Pub, in High Street until December, also pleaded guilty to damaging a sign belonging to the nearby Corner Club.

Prosecutor Lesley Chipps told Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday the 51-year-old was involved in an incident involving several people, during which Lester hurled a racial insult at an Asian woman.

Afterwards, Lester posted a similar message on the pub’s Facebook page with further racial slurs directed at the woman and her husband, which ended with the statement that pulling her hair and hitting him “...so hard you break your hand, should be a national sport. Just saying x.”

Mrs Chipps also said that the landlord of the Corner Club said his CCTV showed four men taking the licensee sign from his pub on September 9 last year and he recognised Lester as one of them.

The sign was later returned to the pub, but it was damaged.

Lee Wilcockson, defending Lester, said: “He took the sign as a joke, he realised a few days later the error of his ways and the sign was returned to the Corner Club. It was a joke that has gone wrong.”

On the racial abuse Mr Wilcockson said that "a number of customers had been in most of the day and had been drinking heavily causing a number of problems.

“The victim had thrown a glass towards someone and there was a verbal exchange, he’s very remorseful.

“He tried to calm the situation down initially, but he overreacted and used inappropriate language.”

He added: “The message on Facebook he initially believed was a private message, a friend asked him what happened in the pub and he accidentally posted a public message... which he admits was inappropriate.”

Robert Smale, chairman of the bench, said: “As the landlord of licensed premises this is not appropriate behaviour, not only over the racial language on the premises but also to follow up on Facebook which you learnt is not a private matter, a lot of people read it.”

Lester pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage on September 9, and one of using racially aggravated threatening words or behaviour likely to cause distress on October 5.

He was sentenced to carry out 120 hours unpaid work, and pay a total of £205 in court costs and compensation, including £50 compensation to the woman, and £10 for the Corner Club sign.

FORMER landlord Mark Lester said he has “lost everything” over the incident.

The court heard he is no longer the licensee of the Admiral Jellicoe and has three weeks left to vacate the premises.

He said after the hearing: “I have no idea what I’m going to do now, I’ve lost everything. It’s been a nightmare.”

The Echo revealed in December that Lester was contesting Enterprise Inns decision to remove him as landlord of the pub.

At the time, the company would not reveal why he had been removed but said: “We have given the publican notice to quit in accordance with the terms of his tenancy agreement.

“The Admiral Jellicoe is a popular community pub and we aim for a smooth transition once a new publican has been appointed.”

The company was unable to respond to the Echo’s request for a comment on Friday.

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