Northern Ireland man who took sheep to Lidl wins jail term appeal
A man who assaulted a store detective after being asked to leave a supermarket where he had taken his pet sheep has spoken of his relief after avoiding jail.
The bizarre incident involving Andrew Meneice and 'Chops' happened at Lidl in Portrush.
Meneice (33), of Glenbush Drive in the town, was given a four-month jail term last year but had been released on bail pending appeal.
Yesterday he was back in Coleraine Courthouse for that hearing, which resulted in Judge Geoffrey Miller QC suspending the sentence for two years.
Afterwards Meneice said he was glad he had not been imprisoned.
"I am happy this is over and done with now and I'm happy not to be going to jail," he said.
Meneice had been drinking on the day in question before taking Chops for a walk and he had gone into Lidl on the "spur of the moment".
He keeps the sheep in a pen at a relative's house a short distance from his home, and continues to take it for walks.
He added: "Chops is well-known in Portrush and is a bit of a character. I realise I am not allowed to take her into shops, not even the car parks of shops, but she will still be out and about."
Meniece was also given a two-year restraining order, which bans him from taking Chops into any retail premises apart from a sheep mart.
The defendant had originally been charged with two assaults on the store detective, being disorderly and resisting a police officer in the execution of his duty.
Last year at Coleraine Magistrates Court he pleaded guilty to resisting the police officer but contested the other three charges.
He was found guilty of one of the assaults and being disorderly. The other assault charge was dismissed.
Sentencing him last year, District Judge Liam McNally had said: "That's a situation which this court will not tolerate."
Lidl store detective David Bennett had told the court he saw a "male with a sheep on a lead" entering the shop and Meneice, "whose eyes were glazed" and who appeared intoxicated, became agitated and abusive.
Mr Bennett explained that because of health and safety and hygiene reasons he "couldn't bring a sheep into the store".
He said the defendant began shouting and when he was told the police were being called his voice became "more raised".
Mr Bennett said he blocked a punch from the defendant, and after being led outside Meneice continued to swing punches at him before the defendant broke off a part of a display and struck him with a metal bar, which he partially blocked with his arm but was hit on the face.
The store detective said Meneice also tried to spit on him.
Store manager Tomas Fusek had said the defendant was "totally out of order" because "you don't normally come to a store with a sheep on a lead".
Customer assistant Jonathan Gerrish told last summer's hearing Meneice had earlier been in the store that day with his sheep, saying: "Save the sheep." And: "Don't buy lamb in Lidl." Although police had been called, the defendant returned.
Meneice told the court last year he had gone to the store because he had been drinking whilst on medication.
He said he had owned Chops since she was a day old and was going to give her back, but he "got attached to her".
He alleged that in the store the sheep - a "defenceless animal" - was punched during the incident, which had made him "upset".
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