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Drunk waved gun demanding £5,000 in busy Southend restaurant
A DRUNK who sparked an armed police response when he waved an imitation gun in a busy restaurant demanding £5,000 has been ordered to pay £1,000.
Petrit Bala, 39, of Lancaster Gardens, Southend, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, at Basildon Crown Court yesterday after admitting assaulting the manager of restaurant Salsa in Southend, and having an imitation firearm in a public place.
Judge Jonathan Black, sentencing, said: “This was an assault on the manager of the premises, a man who needs the protection of the courts.
“It is all too easy for people like that, who deal with drunk customers, to be assaulted.”
Trouble started when Bala, who had been drinking in the London Road restaurant for more than three hours with an Albanian friend, asked for £200 cash back, despite his debit card being declined when he tried to pay the bill.
Manager Jose Coelho said Bala, a regular customer, could pay the next day but the father-of-four struck him in the face and chased him into the kitchen.
Peter Gair,prosecuting, said: “It resulted in pain to Mr Coelho’s cheek.
“He managed to get into the kitchen area. The defendant followed him in there, reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an imitation firearm, saying something like: ‘You owe me £5,000.’”
Mr Coelho escaped and called the police, who sent an armed response unit.
But when the officers trained their weapons on Bala, believing the gun may be real, he responded: “I don’t care. Shoot me.”
The father-of-four held his head in his hands as the court was shown CCTV footage of him waving the fake gun and assaulting Mr Coelho.
His counsel explained Bala, who was separating from his wife of seven years and struggling with gambling debts at the time, rarely drank and remembered none of the incident.
He had confiscated the toy gun from his five-year-old son at the restaurant that afternoon.
John Warrington, mitigating, said: “This offending is very much out of character for this individual and it was crystallised by drink.”
Bala, who pleaded guilty to assault and having an imitation firearm in a public place, was ordered to pay £900 costs and £100 compensation to Mr Coelho.