A young man who hurled anti-semitic abuse at a Jewish family in St Albans city centre has been found guilty of racially aggravated assault.

A video clip of Adam Cassidy, 20, of St Albans, calling a family 'dirty Jews' and kicking an advertising hoarding towards them outside Costa Coffee in St Peter's Street went viral in August last year.

St Albans Magistrates' Court heard yesterday that Cassidy called the group 'dirty Jews' when they confronted him after he collided with a baby buggy.

When Cassidy was confronted by the baby's father, he turned around and called the dad a "dirty Jew," the court heard.

When another member of the family, Michael Mendelsohn, started filming the incident and asked Cassidy to repeat himself, the defendant again barked "dirty Jew" at him.

In the footage played to the court, Cassidy was seen to pull out his own phone and then kicked the coffee shop's branded hoarding before turning and once again calling the family "dirty Jews."

The court heard that Cassidy voluntarily went to the police after seeing the video of him in the incident go viral.

In his defence, Cassidy claimed they called him a "dirty Arab" first.

Bur his defence was rejected by magistrates.

Cassidy, who grew up in Egypt and is the son of an English mother and a Turkish father, had pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated assault and to using the slur when he appeared in court.

But District Judge Margeret Dodd found Cassidy guilty of two charges of racially aggravated assault.

She told Cassidy: "I don't accept your evidence. I don't accept that anybody called you anything.

"Whether it was an accident when you bumped into the buggy I don't know. That doesn't excuse what you did and doesn't excuse your response.

"I'm satisfied you used the language and you used it more than once. I don't accept it was mere abuse.

"There are plenty of words you could have used if you just wanted to be rude; this was motivated by a racial motive.

"It was obvious that they were Jewish because of their skull caps and for that reason you said 'dirty jew' three times.

"I don't accept that you were fearing that you would be attacked when you kicked the barrier.

"I'm not sure what you were trying to do but Mr Mendelsohn would have been hit by the barrier that you agreed you kicked deliberately."

Ali Hussain, defending Cassidy, claimed that the slur was not motivated by racial hatred but was used as an equivalent to what his client had been called before recording started.

He said: "He has ever disputed using those words and has been entirely consistent throughout about the reason he has said what he said.

"It's unfortunate that a little bit more wasn't caught on the video as that would have clarified the situation.

"He gives you a clear account as to why he used the words that he did and the reason, I would suggest, is that it's really him using vulgar language directed at somebody who is clearly Jewish but not, as required by the act, that he is demonstrating hostility based on the fact that they are jewish and I would submit that there is a clear distinction between the two.

"The defendant has explained why he kicked the hoarding and I would submit that probably amounts to self defence."

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Mendelsohn, who filmed the tirade of abuse: "Cassidy's defence added insult to injury.

"It's upsetting that this kind of behaviour happens in this day and age."

Cassidy was ordered to return to the same court for sentencing next month.