A vulnerable man who "flipped" when a Tesco Express shop assistant told him he had joined the wrong queue when he finally reached the till has been sentenced for punching one worker in the face and verbally abusing another.
John Robert Millar (37) pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm in the Belfast city centre shop.
Millar – who suffers from severe muscular pain – was in the Royal Avenue store on January 3, 2013, when he "flipped'', Belfast Crown Court heard.
Millar, from Boyd Street in the city, was carrying a basket of goods to the express counter, the court was told. But when he was informed by a female member of staff that he was in the wrong queue, Millar verbally abused her and shouted: "I want to speak to the f***ing manager."
A male colleague went to find the duty manager and security staff. But as he brushed past him, Millar punched the Tesco staff member in the face.
As a result, the court heard, the shop worker lost a rear molar tooth.
A defence solicitor said Millar was a vulnerable man who suffers daily muscular pain in his neck and upper body. He said that he had become agitated and his pain increased after queuing up at the express counter only to be told he was in the wrong queue.
Deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Philpott QC said: "He completely over-reacted and his behaviour was aggressive.
"There is no excuse for this type of behaviour.
"When he got to the top of the queue and was told he was not being served, he flipped," said Judge Philpott.
The judge added that although Millar had crossed the custody threshold, she was suspending a nine-month jail term for 18 months.