Punch thrown in row over Big Issue pitch outside Marks & Spencer

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A BIG Issue seller who attacked a fellow vendor in front of Christmas shoppers in a row over a sales pitch has been ordered to carry out unpaid work in the community.

Michai Stoica punched the victim outside Marks and Spencer in High Street West on Friday, December 19.

Stoica, 22, of Hadrian Road, Newcastle, admitted using threatening behaviour to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence under Section 4 of the Public Order Act when he appeared before city magistrates last month.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports and Stoica was back before the court yesterday for sentence.

The court last month heard an M&S security guard has seen Stoica run out of the store, punching The Big Issue seller in the face.

Stoica was detained and taken inside the store and police were called to arrest him.

He told police he had punched the man because he had had an earlier argument with his brother.

Gavin Sword, for Stoica, said: “There was some kind of argument about the pitch, between him and this defendant, who also sells The Big Issue.”

Mr Sword said the victim had also been rude to Stoica’s wife. “He goes to confront this man and in his temper he has struck him once and that was it,” Mr Sword added.

“It would appear that the victim has not made any complaint about that.”

Joanne Gatens, representing Stoica yesterday, told the court he was no longer selling The Big Issue but had found a full-time job.

She urged magistrates to go along with a probation service recommendation which would allow the father-of-three to continue working.

“Clearly, employment is a very good and positive thing for Mr Stoica,” she said.

Magistrates agreed to go along with the probation service recommendation and made Stoica subject to a 12-month supervision order. He was also ordered to carry out 140 hours’ unpaid work.