Window-fitter pepper-sprays three men in face in Stoke shop

Aggressive Peter Pupak pepper-sprayed three men in the face. The 43-year-old had been a nuisance inside the Best-One shop, on Hartshill Road, in Stoke, when he took out the canister and sprayed all three men into their eyes and faces.

All three victims were affected by their ordeal - with one believing he had been sprayed with acid and fearing he would be left blind. Now the Slovakian window-fitter - who has been in the UK for 20 years - has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court and ordered to pay each of his victims £150 compensation.

Prosecutor Emma Swindell said: "He looked around the shop for five minutes. He went to the shop assistant and requested he be given a bottle of wine for free. He said he deserved it because he did odd jobs for the shop. He was asked to leave but he became verbally aggressive to the shop assistant.

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"Once outside he remained verbally aggressive. He grabbed one victim by his right shoulder and put his hand around the back of his neck and tried to initiate a fight. He tried to punch a second man but he managed to dodge it. He had something in his right hand and sprayed the man in his eyes. The other two men were also sprayed with this item.

"The defendant was chased down the street by his victims. When searched by police a can of pepper spray was found in the defendant's trouser pocket."

In his police interview Pupak admitted having the weapon but stated he used it in self-defence.

Pupak, of Windsmoor Street, Stoke, pleaded guilty to three charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one charge of possessing a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious substance.

Paul Cliff, mitigating, said Pupak has his own house, is in a stable relationship, and suitable for unpaid work. The suspended sentence includes 80 hours unpaid work, a six-month alcohol treatment requirement, and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Judge Michael Maher told the defendant: "You were making a nuisance of yourself in a shop. You were in drink and pestering the shop assistant for free wine. Your aggression persisted and you were asked to leave. Members of the public involved themselves to assist the shop assistant and you turned nasty on them, taking out the canister and spraying them in one motion outside the shop.

"When people use these sort of illegal weapons in public I could quite easily impose a sentence of immediate imprisonment to recognise the seriousness of the matter and to impose a deterrent impact. But I have to balance that as to whether there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation."

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