A customer swung a metal chain at security guards after being challenged about scanning his shopping, a court heard today.
Michael Nicholl was sentenced to 12 months probation for an outburst likened to a "switch being flipped" on a normally placid individual.
The 47-year-old, of Shaws Place in Belfast, was convicted of three counts of common assault, disorderly behaviour and possessing an offensive weapon in public.
Nicholl targeted staff at the Asda store in the Westwood Centre on Kennedy Way in the west of the city on March 18 last year.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he became abusive when an issue developed at the self-service checkout.
According to the prosecution he was removed from the store after refusing to re-scan items.
"The defendant came back to the shop about five minutes later with a heavy metal chain in his hands," A Crown lawyer said.
"He swung this chain at a security guard, hitting him on the arm."
Nicholl was restrained on the floor, but assaulted two other members of the security team before being arrested.
Defence counsel Declan Quinn told the court there had been a sudden escalation in an incident over a multi-pack of beer among his client's shopping.
"The security guard went over to him, took the beer off him, handed him his bag and effectively told him to leave," Mr Quinn said.
"He is very apologetic about his behaviour; his actions on the day were almost like a switch being flipped for an otherwise completely placid individual."
District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Nicholl suffered a detached retina when a nail went through his eye in a work-related accident.
Since then he has been battled with depression and turned to alcohol.
"He has a talent and an interest in music," Mr Quinn added.
"That's how he passes his day, tending to his eye. playing music and unfortunately drinking."
Imposing 12 months probation, Mrs Bagnall said: "It's clear something has happened on the day, this is not a man who is used to these courts.
"Hopefully that gives him enough support to see him through."
She also ordered destruction of the metal chain.