Sacked Tesco guard claims his life was at risk in row
A TESCO security guard who was sacked after he struck a drunken customer with a shopping basket during a racially charged melee at the store, claims he did so because he was in "danger."
Olatunji Lyinolakan (44), of Enfield, Co Meath, is seeking reinstatement and compensation for unfair dismissal from the supermarket giant following the September 2010 incident.
Mr Lyinolakan told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that a group of young men who had purchased alcohol in the 24-hour Tesco store in Celbridge, Co Kildare, earlier that day were seen on camera at around 10.30pm urinating outside the main doors.
He and fellow security guard Waziri Ibrahim went outside to intervene, where he claimed they were met with a torrent of racial abuse by the gang, who made insulting gestures and called both men "f***ing black bastards".
Mr Ibrahim, who appeared as a witness for his former colleague, said the gang threatened to kill him and his wife before they hit him with a bottle.
"One of the guys kicked me in my groin," he said, noting that the injury forced him to take a week off work to recover.
The melee, involving about eight young men in their early 20s, then spilled into the store.
CCTV footage of the incident played during the first day of the hearing in April, showed one of the main instigators smashing a security barrier in the store before putting Mr Lyinolakan in a headlock and punching him.
Mr Lyinolakan said his attacker had threatened "to rape and kill my wife and kill me as well" during the violent scuffle.
He said he ordered his attacker several times to back off before he swung at him with a shopping basket, striking him twice in the torso in order to diffuse the situation and protect himself.
"I was faced with imminent danger. Someone was coming at me aggressively, so I reacted," he told the tribunal.
Mr Lyinolakan said he rang gardai twice during the melee but they had yet to arrive.
He was later dismissed for breaching health and safety regulations.
Amanda Kane, a representative of the Mandate trade union representing Mr Lyinolakan, claimed Tesco didn't follow proper disciplinary procedures and that the company "acted unreasonably from the outset".
Mairead Crosby, a human resources representative for IBEC, representing Tesco, contends that Mr Lyinolakan used excessive force in dealing with the incident.
The tribunal retired to consider the case.