AN engineer who made racist remarks to an equality campaigner and former beauty queen in a “terrifying” incident at a pub – then returned to the scene with a gun and a knife after her friends sent him packing – has been jailed for 31 months.

Jonathan Neep, 46, of Speculation Road, Cinderford was told by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court that his ‘moment of madness’ had left his mixed-race victim Khady Gueye with long-lasting distress.

Neep pleaded guilty to possession of six-inch kitchen knife at the Belfry Inn, Littledean, possessing a Colt Defender .177 air weapon with intent to cause Ms Gueye to believe unlawful violence would be used against her and having a racially aggravated intent to cause her harassment, alarm or distress.

The incident happened on October 6 last year when Ms Gueye – the 2016/17 Miss Gloucester beauty queen and a 2021 county council election candidate for Labour –  was at the Belfry Hotel in Littledean with friends.

Neep approached her and asked her if she was of Nigerian heritage, then went on to make remarks about black people living this country and said they should not be allowed to become British. 

The pub licensee as well as friends of Ms Gueye intervened and told him he was a racist and should leave.

He then returned with the weapons but was disarmed in a scuffle with some of her male friends who seized the BB gun and knife from him, the court heard.

Ms Gueye, who is director of the Local Equality Collective in Gloucester as well as community programmes manager for the Music Works charity, told the court: “This incident has had a severe impact on me. I had never experienced anything so graphic or violent and it really shocked me.

“I never felt more aware that I am a mixed-race woman living in a predominately white area. It was a terrifying experience. It is terrifying to think what the outcome would have been if someone had not been there to intervene.

“My life has been turned upside down by this.  I had never before been confronted by racism which turned to violence. I was too scared to go back to my own home afterwards.”

Ms Gueye said that, ironically, all her work in the past few years has been centred around racial justice.

“This incident was a reminder of just how ingrained racism is in our rural communities,” she said.

“I am now scared of taking my four-year-old daughter to school or being in public places with her.  I worry about how this will affect her life.

“After the incident I was given compassionate leave from both my workplaces.

“I was scared because of the fear that he may one day be back living and working in my community.”

Prosecutor Lucy Taylor said it was about 9.30pm on October 6 last year when Neep turned up at the Belfry and started handing out his business cards to locals.

On seeing his name Ms Gueye asked if he was related to a Rodney Neep (the defendant’s father), who she knew because there had been ‘some racial communications on social media.’

The prosecutor said Neep retorted that he hated his father, who was a racist and misogynist.

“The conversation then proceeded in a cordial way,” said Ms Taylor. “But during the conversation he asked her if she was Nigerian.  He asked where she was from.  She continued having a civil conversation but was taken aback by the questions from him.  He said something about black people in the UK should never become British.

“She was disgusted and frustrated by this and was crying and being comforted by friends. She told him she didn’t feel comfortable talking to him any more.

“People with her were trying to get him to leave. He was trying to get her to continue the conversation but her friends stepped in because they were very concerned by what they had heard. The licensee of the Belfry also intervened.”

The prosecutor said after he left one of the people with Miss Gueye called him on his phone - getting his number from the business cards he had given out - and told him ‘You’re a racist, don’t come back.’

His response was ‘I’ll see you outside in 10 minutes.’

Ms Taylor continued: “He did in fact return and was seen walking back towards the Belfry.  Some of the males in Ms Gueye’s group went towards him in the car park. He then pulled out a handgun and pointed it at a man’s face, about an inch away.  The man was able to smack the gun away with his left hand, causing Neep to drop it.

“Another of the males punched the defendant in the face and restrained him with the help of others. The gun was seized and put in a drawer in the pub.

“Neep was getting more aggressive. Another of the males saw what appeared to be the handle of a large knife in his pocket. This was also taken from him and put in the pub.“

Neep was heard to protest: “I’m a man, I have rights, I was protecting myself.”

Ms Taylor said: “His actions caused a lot of fear and shock. People were terrified, very scared. Some people were screaming and crying. The police were called and because of the nature of the incident firearms officers attended and arrested him.

“He was described by the officers as being intoxicated.

“He told the officers ‘I did not get the gun out, I did not make any racial comments.  I was set upon and assaulted.’”

Steve Young, defending, said Neep had not set out to make racist comments but the conversation with Ms Gueye took an unintended turn and the incident flared up. He left the pub but decided to go back because the person who rang him after he left had threatened to burn down his business premises in Cinderford, Mr Young said.

“He has degrees in psychology and mechanical engineering,” added the lawyer. “He has no previous convictions or cautions for any kind of offence, he is single and has no children. He had a business which he established himelf last year and he has renovated three separate buildings and bought a £100,000 piece of machinery for his bespoke robotic engineering.

“He has managed to obtain contracts including making a central clock for the dashboard of a model of Rolls Royce and equipment for Aston Martin.”

Mr Young said Neep had gone to the pub that night to hand out business cards to promote himself but during his conversation with Ms Gueye he asked her if she was Nigerian and that became a ‘sticking point.’

The reason he had mentioned Nigeria to her was because he had actually worked there for a year as a teacher and thought it would be something he could talk to her about, said Mr Young.

It was ironic, he said, that a man who had achieved so much and had worked in Nigeria for the benefit of the local people there should end up committing a racially aggravated offence.

Neep had been ‘stupid and ridiculous’ to go and fetch the gun and knife and escalate the situation, he added.

As a result of Neep being held in custody since his arrest he had lost his business, still owed money for the machinery, and had nothing left except a criminal conviction.

Sentencing Neep to a prison term of 31 months, Judge Lawrie told him: “It’s extraordinary that somebody of your intelligence and skill in a moment of madness ended up in a pub indulging in racially offensive remarks.

“Whatever happened cannot justify your subsequent reactions in arming yourself with a knife and a gun. It’s hard to understand or explain these actions when they are compared to your background.

“Your language was thoroughly offensive on both occasions. I form the view that you were intoxicated and because of this it blurred your judgement. Your conversation with the young victim descended into racially offensive language, which I find hard to understand and surprising because you’ve carried out charity work in Nigeria by helping build schools.

“When you were kicked out of the pub, you returned having armed yourself with offensive weapons. You then put people in fear with a knife and a BB gun in a public place. Luckily you were disarmed by those in the pub.

“You were influenced by drink and this was an ill-fated error of judgement.

“You are however a man of previous good character, but your actions that night and today’s sentence will affect your future. You have effectively ruined your future. I have taken the view you acted completely out of character.

“You are intelligent and were a skilled engineer with a good career which has now been lost. 

"Whilst you’ve been remanded in custody, you’ve made good use of your time by teaching other inmates the value of mathematics.

“Your admission is coloured by the factual element in this case because you failed to admit in full what happened.”