A MAN who launched a “despicable” and racist attack on two Polish men before threatening them with an imitation gun has avoided prison due to his disability.

Frank Scinto, 55, of Baxter Avenue, Southend, was drunk when he was travelling down Queensway on his mobility scooter at about 1pm on April 15 last year, Basildon Crown Court heard.

He then approached two Polish men and began shouting racist remarks at them. When they questioned what his problem was, Scinto produced a black handgun and pointed it at them before shouting further abuse.

The victims immediately called the police, causing Scinto to backtrack on his threatening behaviour.

As soon as the call was made, the defendant said ‘Please don’t call the police. We’re friends. I’m sorry, shake my hand.’

Just over a month later he was arrested and searched. Officers found a black handgun in his coat pocket. It was examined and it turned out to be a carbon dioxide-powered BB gun.

Scinto admitted racially aggravated provocation of fear or violence and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Sentencing him on Friday, Judge John Lodge said: “This was a despicable offence. The fact that you were drunk at the time can in no way justify either part of what you did.

“It was bad enough to utter the vile abuse to two people who have as much right to be in this country as you do. When they simply queried what your problem was, to threaten them with a gun was a shocking event.

“It may have been totally incapable of doing them any harm – they had no way of knowing that.”

Judge Lodge heard that Scinto could not complete unpaid work and ruled that a curfew would not be a punitive measure for someone with his disabilities but could not bring himself to send him to prison. Scinto was instead sentenced to 16 months suspended for two years.

Judge Lodge added: “I’m not suspending that sentence for any reason other than your ill health.

“The position being that on a man of your age and your disability, the effect of serving eight months in custody would be so grave that in my judgement it would be unfair of me to send you to prison today.”