Fast food outlet owner assaulted by customer

A CUSTOMER who threw food around a restaurant before assaulting the owner of the premises was convicted of the offence at Kilkenny Court.

A CUSTOMER who threw food around a restaurant before assaulting the owner of the premises was convicted of the offence at Kilkenny Court.

David Barry, 10 Steeple Court, New Building Lane entered a plea to criminal damage but denied assault and being intoxicated at Uncle Sams, High Street on November 25.

The owner of the premises, Mario Gismandi told the court that he was ‘working away’ and it was almost closing time when two men and a woman entered the shop. “They approached the counter and asked me for some food and I said okay. They started messing from the counter. That was okay. They got the food and sat down and the two guys started arguing and throwing the food around. Myself and a member of staff said to stop messing and to clear out. The defendant started abusing me and throwing punches and I avoided every one. I threw him out and the defendant started smashing a window from outside. I went outside and he got really aggressive and was going crazy.

“The defendant put his hand in his pocket and said ‘I am going to kill you’. I got in and was trying to close the door and he was pushing and my finger got caught and was slashed with something. He swung a punch around the back of the door and hit me at the back of my head. I got half a stick from a broom and was fearing for my life and my staff and was trying to protect the shop.

“He kicked the door and charged in. I told him to leave and a member of my staff was trying to call the police. He kept saying ‘I am going to sue you’. After that the police arrived and the defendant was taken to hospital.

Mr Gismandi told the court that he grabbed the defendant by the jacket and the defendant fell to the ground. “He got up and grabbed him again and put him outside the door. “ Solicitor Sonya Lanigan said that his client accepted that he had smashed the window but denied the assault. She added that her client claimed that he was assaulted by the owner. The court heard that there was no CCTV present.

Garda James McGuill said that he attended the scene at 1am and observed a man face down on the floor and that there was blood on him. “I immediately called an ambulance. The defendant was lying on the floor and the owner was present and I spoke to him. He stated that the group had entered the premises, an altercation had broken out and that a window had been broken. The owner also told the gardai that he had struck the defendant with a piece of wood. The defendant, who was unconscious was brought to St Luke’s Hospital. The owner also showed a cut to his lip and a limp to his head to gardai which he alleged happened as a result of the assault by Mr Barry. The court heard that the defendant has suffered from post traumatic stress since the incident.

Mr Barry told the court that he went to The Playwright at around 7pm and left shortly after midnight and went to Uncle Sams for food. “We sat down and me and my friend were joking and laughing. He threw a pizza crust at me and I threw it back at him and it hit the wall and the owner said to go and clean it. I said that I would clean it after I finished my food. He said no and pushed me outside the door forcibly. I fell down by the steps and the owner came out and pushed me away. I tried to get back in to get my jacket and my food and the owner hit me and winded me. I felt provoked and I hit the window. I walked back into the shop and I could see the owner with a pizza shovel and I got a fright. I was walking towards the table and he struck me with something and I woke up in hospital. I had to get a brain scan, a cat scan and a scan on my back. I have been on anti-depressants and I have seen a psychiatrist for post traumatic stress,” he added.

Judge Aingeal Ni Chonduin stated that there was ‘no doubt’ that there was an incident. “There was some messing and some blackguarding that started it. If I was a patron I would expect him to be put out. It was a fun evening to a point. The defendant broke a window and that takes a lot of anger. These are decent enough young people but they have forgotten who is on trial. If you can’t hold your drink then don’t drink,” she said. The court heard that the cost of compensation for the broken window was €120.

“He is to come back with the compensation. I have no interest in putting anyone in jail as they won’t learn anything good there,” she said. She ordered a probation report in the case and adjourned it to February 25 for the payment of compensation.