A TAXI office worker has told of her hurt and upset after a man told her "You belong on a dinghy you dirty immigrant".

Leo Pragnell launched a racist tirade and proceeded to punch walls and doors - and then smashed a shop window in an angry early hours spree - after being told he would have to wait half an hour for a cab.

Fleetline Taxis worker Avril Bailey said the language used by Pragnell was very offensive and she was hurt by it.

Pragnell, aged 19, of Bridlebank Way, Weymouth, pleaded guilty at Weymouth Magistrates Court to racial abuse towards Ms Bailey as well as criminal damage to the window of Quayside Leather.

It relates to an incident on Sunday, October 29, 2023, on Westham Road in Weymouth.

Elizabeth Valera, prosecuting, said Pragnell was 'clearly in drink' when he went to get a taxi from Fleetline at around 4am.

She said: "He is told it is going to be a 30-minute wait and becomes unhappy. He punches a wall, goes across the road and punches a closed shop shutter."

When Pragnell came back across the road Ms Bailey told him to stop punching the walls and doors - and that he would not be getting a taxi from Fleetline.

Dorset Echo: Fleetline Taxis on Westham Road, Weymouth - where the incident took placeFleetline Taxis on Westham Road, Weymouth - where the incident took place (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Pragnell retorted by telling Ms Bailey - who was born in London and whose father is from Sri Lanka: "You belong on a dinghy you dirty immigrant" and a slew of similar insults.

He also used racist language when referring to her.

The court heard that Ms Bailey was 'extremely upset' by his behaviour, which went on for some time.

Drivers from the firm stepped in and put themselves between Pragnell and Ms Bailey and pushed him away from the taxi office.

The defendant then walked across the road and headbutted one of Quayside Leather's windows until it smashed - before running away. He was later caught by police.

The owner of Quayside Leather was awoken by the noise, saying he heard bashing sounds 'like someone was trying to break into the shop'.

Dorset Echo: Quayside Leather is across the road from FleetlineQuayside Leather is across the road from Fleetline (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Pragnell chose to represent himself in court and said he was 'winging it' with his guilty plea.

In mitigation, he said: "Sorry for doing it and wasting everyone's time."

Pragnell told the court he has no issues with alcohol or drugs.

District Judge Orla Austin told him: "You have pleaded guilty but I take the view this is a very serious matter. The words used were very racially offensive.

"It seems to me that your approach to this case has been quite casual."

Pragnell replied: "I thought I was going to come up here and get an NFA (no further action) and go home."

The judge replied: "Franky you are not helping yourself and I suggest you speak to a lawyer".

The case was adjourned so that a pre-sentence report could be prepared. Pragnell will be sentenced on Wednesday, July 3 at Weymouth Magistrates Court.

He was released on bail with conditions not to contact Avril Bailey, the drivers involved, or to go to Fleetline Taxis.

Read more: In the Dock - Weymouth Magistrates Court

Read more: Man admits assaulting four people at Old Rooms Inn, WeymouthDorset Echo: Ms Bailey has worked at Fleetline for several years and says she has had 'anything and everything' said to herMs Bailey has worked at Fleetline for several years and says she has had 'anything and everything' said to her (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Speaking after the case, Ms Bailey says she was happy with how the case has proceeded.

She said: "I am happy he has pleaded guilty and something has been done about it.

"Sadly with this job, you can get called anything and everything, it can get horrible. I get a lot of racist slurs directed at me so the fact he is willing to take responsibility for his actions (by pleading guilty) is good."

She added: "Hopefully he won't use any of these slurs again because they are really offensive, and they do hurt. There is not a lot that gets me angry but my race and my family - you are going to get me upset. 

"I am glad these things are being taken seriously by the court. It is literally just the colour of my skin and I can't believe in 2024 we are still having this issue. I don't want my kids to have to live through what I have."