A “VILE and nasty” man has been jailed for hurling homophobic abuse at two Chester shop workers and ripping out a customer’s hair extensions.

James Dowd, 53, had previously been banned from Tesco Express on Weston Grove, Upton, but was spotted “spaced out and stumbling” near the entrance at around 5.55pm on August 29 this year.

Known to staff as an alcoholic, he was asked to leave but immediately became abusive calling two female employees “filthy lesbians” in front of members of the public.

Chester Magistrates Court heard on Thursday (November 21) that Dowd, of Peckforton Way in Upton, then assaulted a woman who tried to calm the situation.

“He grabbed hold of her hair and pulled her to the ground,” said Olivia Murray, prosecuting. “In doing so he pulled out a handful of her hair extensions.”

Police were called and arrested Dowd, who later said he remembered nothing of the evening other than watching TV at home with friends.

However, he pleaded guilty to assault and two public order offences and was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison.

He must also pay a total of £600 compensation to the women and was banned from approaching the store or the two staff members for two years.

The court heard the incident had had a profound effect on the three victims, one of whom described Dowd as an “animal”.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the customer who was attacked said she had paid £350 for the extensions as she was appearing in a TV documentary.

“The pain of having my hair pulled out was horrific,” she said. “I’m usually quite a strong person but I’m now very jumpy as a result of the incident as you don’t expect someone to attack you like that.”

Describing him as ‘vile, nasty and hating women’, she added: “He may have been drunk but that’s no excuse to act like an animal.”

In their own statements, the two store workers also said they had changed their shifts to avoid bumping into Dowd.

One said she was considering moving out of the area, adding: “Seeing what he was capable of really scared me.”

Listening to the prosecution facts and victim impact statements from the dock, Dowd repeatedly interrupted telling the chair of magistrates: “I don’t agree with it, my Lord. I’ll shut my mouth but it’s all lies!”

He also denied he had a drink problem, exclaiming: “My Lord, I swear to you now I’m not an alcoholic!”

Dowd’s solicitor, John Black, attempted to calm him down and reminded him that he had pleaded guilty to all charges.

It emerged Dowd has 12 previous convictions for 17 offences including three of battery and a public order matter from May this year.

Mr Black, defending, said his client had admitted what happened even though he could not remember any part of it.

“His only recollection is of being at home watching TV with friends,” he told the court, before adding: “Mr Dowd wishes to apologise for any upset, discomfort or harm that has come to these people.”

The solicitor also stressed that CCTV footage clearly shows an unknown man assaulting Dowd outside the store after the incident, leaving him with a bloody nose. No charges have yet been brought in relation to this.

The court also heard the defendant had not intended to make homophobic remarks as he was in a homosexual relationship and knew what it was like to receive abuse over it.

Dowd, who is on benefits and lives in his late mother’s house, must pay £400 to the woman he attacked and £100 to each of the Tesco store workers. No court costs were imposed.