Recovered coma patient barged elderly woman to claim seat in Sunderland Greggs

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A man who had just left hospital after spending a week in a coma ended up in court after a row in a Sunderland cafe over a seat.

Alan Armstrong, 63, barged past an elderly woman in a wheelchair as she attempted to manoeuvre herself into a seat at the Greggs cafe in The Bridges, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Mr Armstrong has tried to push past her, to get into the seat before she did

Prosecutor Lee Poppett

The court was told that Armstrong had an unblemished record until the incident, on December 19.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said a plain-clothed police officer had sat down inside the cafe on the lookout for shoplifters in the Christmas rush, when the elderly couple arrived. “The female was in a wheelchair and the male was pushing the wheelchair,” Mr Poppett said. “She got out of the wheelchair and made her way towards a chair, while holding onto a table.

“At that point, Armstrong has tried to push past her, to get into the seat before she did.

“The elderly female’s partner is described as remonstrating, perhaps understandably, with Armstrong, and there is an argument between the parties.”

Mr Poppett said the officer intervened and identified himself as a police officer, but Armstrong started issuing threats, saying: “I’ll remember your face. Wait until my mate is with me. You watch. He’ll have you.”

Armstrong, of Frank Avenue, Seaham, was arrested and admitted a public order offence.

The elderly couple were left shocked but unharmed.

John Thandi, defending, said Armstrong had thought the couple had been about to leave the table.

“He had just been released from hospital after being in a coma for over a week,” he added.

Armstrong was given a six-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £85 costs and £15 victim surcharge.