Following trouble at McDonald's in Ballymena judge says courts 'take seriously' drunken early morning assaults on staff

Following trouble at McDonald's in Ballymena judge says courts 'take seriously' drunken early morning assaults on staff

A JUDGE said courts "take seriously" drunken early morning assaults on staff working in hot-food outlets.

District Judge Philip Mateer was speaking at Ballymena Magistrates Court to Lucasz Wach (28), with an address given as Magilligan prison.

The defendant pleaded guilty to being disorderly at McDonald's Restaurant in Ballymena around 2am on February 4, 2020, and to the 'assault' of a member of staff who was put in fear that Wach would leap the counter.

The court heard Wach, who had the assistance in court of a Polish language interpreter, had 29 previous convictions.

A defence lawyer said Wach had recently been in a Deportation Centre in Scotland but is currently on bail pending an appeal regarding Home Office Deportation.

He had previously been given a one year prison term for breaking a customer's jaw at the same McDonald's on February 23, 2020.

Regarding the February 4 incident now before the court, a prosecutor said police attended McDonald's after a report of two males fighting and staff being verbally abused.

Police spoke to staff who said the defendant had been shouting and threatening staff for 20 minutes and he had spat in a plastic container and then on the floor behind the counter.

Whilst police were there Wach continued to shout and swear despite repeated warnings not to do so.

The defence lawyer said the spitting referred to a "technical assault" which had been withdrawn by prosecutors and dismissed by the court.

She said the assault admitted to by Wach involved him "finger pointing" at a female member of staff.

The prosecutor said Wach had called the female employee a "bitch" and a "c**t" and the defendant had told her to "suck his b*lls".

Wach had been asked to leave due to his level of intoxication.

The prosecutor said Wach had refused to pay for his order and he pointed his finger at the female employee in what the employee said was an "aggressive manner".

She was afraid that Wach would "come over the counter towards her" and she had hit a "panic button".

When arrested Wach said he had drank a litre bottle of whiskey and had gone to McDonald's with a friend and thought the friend was paying for food.

Wach initially denied the offences when interviewed by police and claimed he could not remember what he said.

The prosecutor added: "In terms of the abuse, aggression and vulgar threats he denied all those allegations".

The defence lawyer said the "unpleasant behaviour" was fuelled by alcohol and Wach had not taken any drink for a number of weeks since getting out of jail.

She said Wach is now living with relative in Belfast area and hopes to work as a forklift driver. He had completed a metalwork class in Magilligan and also cleaned landings in jail.

Judge Mateer said the offending was "aggravated by virtue of the fact" that there had been an assault in the early hours of the morning in a fast food outlet. "That is always regarded as a serious matter," he added.

Judge Mateer continued: "People who work at 2.10am serving fried chicken or whatever it was are on low incomes and at that time of the morning they are vulnerable and the courts take seriously anyone who behaves inappropriately at that time in such circumstances".

The judge said as the defendant had subsequently served a jail term for a later offence he handed down a five months prison term, suspended for three years, for the February 4, 2020, incident.

  • Main picture: The McDonald's in Ballymena.