A ‘starving’ shopkeeper has returned to his favorite Indian restaurant in a hammer-wielding rage after staff refused to hand over his takeout meal until he paid for it – even though he told them that he had already paid for it when he placed his order half an hour earlier.
Confusion between staff at the Nokshi restaurant in An Fuaran, Moycullen, on April 16 last year over payment for food caused Michael Williams, 60, of Corrach Buí, Rahoon, Galway to lose his temper . a sledgehammer in the back of his van parked outside and walks into the restaurant angrily.
Mr Williams pleaded guilty in Galway District Court this week to scaring staff by entering the premises brandishing the gavel intended to intimidate them.
A second charge of breaching the peace, engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting language or behavior on the same occasion was withdrawn by Sergeant Christy Browne, prosecuting, following the first charge’s plea.
Sgt Browne said following a dispute over payment for a take-out meal for two at 8.45pm, Mr Williams left the scene in anger and returned moments later with a hammer. “A sledgehammer? More than one note in a restaurant? asked Judge Fahy in disbelief.
Sgt Browne said Williams’ van was stopped shortly afterwards on Spiddal Road by Garda Neil Waters and he immediately admitted his guilt.
Judge Fahy said she was dying to hear the rest of the story. She said it sounded ridiculous but it wouldn’t have been fun at all for the restaurant staff or patrons that night.
Defense attorney Olivia Traynor said Williams was a regular customer who had ordered takeout half an hour earlier. He paid for it and due to Covid regulations was told to come back half an hour later to collect it.
When he returned, the manager insisted he hadn’t paid and refused to give him the takeout until he did. Mr Traynor said his client completely overreacted.
“He totally accepts what he did was so crazy. He put his hands up when Garda Waters stopped him,” she said.
Judge Fahy asked Williams if he was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time, which could have led him to act the way he did.
He assured her that he did not drink or take drugs, but admitted that he felt offended and lost his temper when he was accused of not having paid and that he had seen his girlfriend get angry. “I take it you won’t be going to that restaurant again?” asked Judge Fahy.
“No, I cook at home now,” Williams replied.
Ms Traynor said her client was not working at the moment, but was working in trades in the construction industry.
The judge told Ms Traynor she would have to deal with the case in custody because although she felt Williams had no intention of using the gavel, he used it to scare staff, which we couldn’t do.
Garda Waters said staff and two customers who were there ‘were pretty shaken up’ in the night, but added that Williams put his hands up straight away when he stopped him and didn’t come near the restaurant since.
Judge Fahy sentenced Williams to five months in prison, which she suspended for two years on the condition that he behave well and stay away from the restaurant for the next two years.