A 23-year-old Clitheroe man called the asssitant manageress of a town centre pub a 'black bitch' and told her to 'get back to the jungle' after he was challenged while out on a work's Christmas do.

Blackburn magistrates heard that Mark Cottam started imitating a monkey, jumping up and down, and put his face close to that of Francesca Marsden after she had told him to leave the Swan and Royal.

Cottam, of Bleasdale Avenue, Clitheroe, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated threatening behaviour. He was fined £200 and ordered to pay £100 compensation and £55 costs.

David Hartley, prosecuting, said Miss Marsden was working in the pub on December 22 and at about 6pm saw Cottam in the pub with a group of males. He was 'muscling' his way to the bar, which was crowded at the time, and Miss Marsden shouted at him to stop pushing.

Cottam replied: "Who are you to tell me that, you black bitch, get back to the jungle." He was told to leave but said he was not going anywhere and Miss Marsden could not make him.

However, he had left the pub by the time police arrived.. Mr Hartley said that about 20 minutes later Miss Marsden was serving behind the bar when she saw the Christmas tree being thrown about the pub.

Cottam had hold of it, when Miss Marsden approached Cottam threw the tree at her and said: "Here, take it back to the jungle with you." Simon Farnsworth, defending, said Cottam works as a panel beater for a large repair garage in Clitheroe and on the day of the incident was out with work colleagues on a Christmas do.

"He really can't remember much about it," said Mr Farnsworth. "He works with people of different nationalities, colours and creeds and he has no problem at all with that.

"It seems that, egged on by his friends, he has for some reason used this disgraceful language, which he deeply regrets. He has written an apology to Miss Marsden."

Mr Farnsworth said Cottam's employers had taken a dim view of his behaviour and while he was going to keep his job his bosses were far from impressed. It appeared he was banned from all the public houses in the Clitheroe area."