Bar manager fined for assault

Lerwick sheriff court.

A BAR manager who left a man with severe injuries after removing him from a Lerwick pub with a push to the chest has been fined £1,000.

Mark Toka, of Gilbertson Road, Lerwick, previously admitted pushing the man on the body, causing him to fall to the ground to his severe injury and permanent impairment, at the Thule Bar on 21 February last year.

Defence agent Gregor Kelly told Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday that a petition containing 500 signatures had been created in support of the 27 year old following the offence.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the victim, who was barred from the pub, turned up at around 12.45am when Toka was closing up.

CCTV showed the bar manager talking to the victim and telling him to leave, but the complainer didn’t comply and “demanded” to know why he was being removed.

Toka placed his hand on the man, said Mackenzie, and escorted him to the door.

But after going outside, the man turned around towards Toka, who then pushed him with two hands, causing him to fall backwards.

The complainer put his hands out to break his fall, which is what caused the “significant” injury.

Mackenzie said the man had been drinking and this may have also contributed to his fall.

The victim took a taxi to the Gilbert Bain Hospital but he was abusive to the driver, the fiscal added.

The man suffered an open fracture which required to be in a cast for two months following surgery, and he needed another operation after later re-injuring the area. He is expected to regain full mobility in his arm.

“The level of violence used here was low,” Mackenzie said. “It’s an instantaneous response born out of frustration”.

Defence agent Kelly said it was “highly unfortunate that Mr Toka finds himself here” in court.

A letter from his employer said that Toka was an “honest and sensible” worker who always looked out for patrons’ safety.

Kelly said the victim knew he was banned from the pub but regularly attended the bar – even at one point threatening to “cut the throat” of Toka in remonstration.

The solicitor said his client, who he stated did not intend to injure the victim, was sworn at on the night of the offence and pushed the man in “exasperation”.

He added that Toka had moved to the UK from Hungary some years ago but was worried what effect the offence would have on his status in a post-Brexit world.

Kelly showed Sheriff Ian Cruickshank a copy of a petition signed by hundreds in support of Toka – with the sheriff noting that he had been described as a “top dude”.

“It’s an unfortunate chain of events and he has to accept he is the catalyst, but there are strong mitigating factors,” the solicitor said.

Sheriff Cruickshank described the offence as a “very serious matter”, but he said Toka – a first offender – appeared “remorseful and accepted responsibility for his actions”.

“It was a single push…what we are looking at is not a sustained attack,” the sheriff said.

Sheriff Cruickshank added that if the assault had been of a more serious nature then custody would have been likely. 

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