Angry dad headbutted trolley collector who forced him to brake, spilling his daughter’s juice

Barry Churchill admitted assaulting a trolley collector at Sainsbury's.
Barry Churchill admitted assaulting a trolley collector at Sainsbury's.
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An enraged Wearside dad headbutted a trolley collector in the face in front of his three children in a row over a space in a supermarket carpark.

After assaulting the member of staff, who suffers from epilepsy, Barry Churchill, 39, then walked into Sainsbury’s to do his shopping as if nothing had happened.

Sainsbury's, The Galleries, Washington.

Sainsbury's, The Galleries, Washington.

When the police became involved he was surprised that it was even a matter for them, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Having initially denied the assault, on March 16, Churchill, of Foxley, Sulgrave, changed his plea to guilty on the day his trial was due to be held.

Prosecutor Katherine Hannah said: “The injured party, Daniel Coyle, is a trolley collector at Sainsbury’s in The Galleries.

“He walked past a parking bay at the same time as the defendant was pulling into the bay. He wasn’t forced to stop and change the direction of driving, but was very annoyed and started shouting at him ‘you should use the path’. The victim had his brother with him at the time.

“He said couldn’t use the path as somebody else was using it.”

Miss Hannah said Mr Coyle then put his hands up in a ‘surrender gesture’ as if to say ‘whatever mate’, then carried on with the trolleys along the car park.

“About 30 seconds later, he turned around and saw the defendant coming towards him,” Miss Hannah said. “The victim stopped and the defendant approached him.

“The defendant then headbutted Mr Coyle once to the face. He described feeling completely shocked.”

The court heard how Churchill then threatened Mr Coyle’s brother, before going into the store, where they saw each other again, before security was notified.

“There were in fact two other people who witnessed the incident,” Miss Hannah added. “They have come to court to give evidence.”

Mr Coyle suffered a cut upper lip and a sore tooth.

In a statement read out in court, he said: “I never instigated anything. This male was aggressive for no reason at all. I suffer with epilepsy and I am currently off work. His reaction was uncalled for and has left me feeling nervous.”

Phillipa Wylie, defending, said: “Having had a good and frank discussion with Mr Churchill today, he accepts his guilt and he’s entered a guilty plea.

“He has no previous convictions or cautions. He is somebody who has never been arrested, never come to the attention of police or the court system.

“It has been both a shocking experience and an embarrassing experience for him and his wife, who is at the back of the court.”

Miss Wylie said Churchill had been forced to brake as he was pulling into the bay, due to Mr Coyle pushing the trolleys across it.

“He had to make an emergency stop,” Miss Wylie added. “That resulted in his daughter spilling juice all over herself and she was distressed by that. The complainant made no acknowledgement of what he had done. Red mist has descended and he has confronted the complainant.”

Probation officer Paul Grace said Churchill is currently unemployed after having surgery to his shoulders.

“He had his three children at the time and the offence took place a very short distance form the vehicle,” Mr Grace added,

“The experience of coming to court has been a sour one for him.

“When police got in touch with him four weeks later he was surprised. He doesn’t see the headbutt as a headbutt, more of a coming together.”

Churchill was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was told to pay £100 in compensation to Mr Coyle, £60 victim surcharge and £300 costs.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Vincent Lamb said: “The chap ended up with a cut lip and aching to his teeth. Other people saw what happened and the chap was just doing his job.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said after the case: “Assaults on our colleagues are completely unacceptable. They have the right to feel safe and secure while they are at work.”