Thursday 22 August 2019

'Give me a pizza or I'll set dog on you', man told staff at Dublin pizzeria

Joseph Maher threatened workers with dog like one above
Joseph Maher threatened workers with dog like one above
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A dog owner threatened to set his Staffordshire Bull Terrier on frightened staff at a pizzeria when they refused to serve him food because he was drunk.

Joseph Maher (42) "bullied" the restaurant workers while demanding pizza and using his dog as a "potential weapon" against them.

Suspending a one-month sentence, Judge John Hughes said while the terrier was a "much-loved family pet", many people would be fearful of the breed and Maher "didn't threaten them with his cat or his hamster".

As well as the suspended sentence, the judge imposed fines totalling €1,050.

Abusive

Maher, from Landen Road, Ballyfermot in Dublin, pleaded guilty to threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour and being in charge of a dog without a muzzle.

Gda Lee Gorman of Kilmainham Garda Station told Dublin District Court the incident happened at Four Star Pizza, South Circular Road, on November 14, 2018.

The accused went to the premises in an intoxicated state, with his dog, and ordered a pizza.

When staff refused to serve him and asked him to leave, he threatened to set the dog on them. The workers were behind the counter and called gardai. When Gda Gorman arrived, the accused repeated the threat to him.

Judge Hughes said it was a serious case.

"Whilst Mr Maher's pet dog may well be a much-loved pet in his house, the reality is that there are many people in society who are fearful of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and don't share the same love of the breed that Mr Maher does," he said.

"In his intoxicated state he saw fit to threaten both gardai and members of staff that he would set on them what he perceived as something that would frighten them.

"He didn't threaten them with his cat or hamster. He sought to bully them and effectively force them to serve him ...

"In this case his pet was a potential weapon against them. Such was his behaviour and the level of threat they telephoned gardai to seek assistance."

The pizzeria staff did not wish to be heard in court as victims, and Judge Hughes said as a result he was not in a position to "gauge the reality of the threats".

He asked Gda Gorman if the accused had been convincing in his threat.

"Yes, he was aggressive, he wanted his pizza and he first stated that he was going to set the dog on staff if he didn't get the pizza and then he said he would set the dog on me," Gda Gorman replied.

The court heard the accused was on disability allowance and the dog was licensed.

Pet

Judge Hughes said it appeared the dog was a family pet, co-owned by the accused's wife. The judge said he would not make any order in relation to the dog or prohibit the accused from owning one.

Maher was to be given credit for seeing fit to apologise to the garda, but he had never apologised to staff, the judge noted.

His barrister said Maher conveyed that apology now.

The offence happened in November last year so it was "not a compliment to him" that he did not see fit to apologise to them earlier, the judge said.

He suspended the one-month sentence for a year.

Granting legal aid to cover a barrister, the judge said but for the mitigation heard, he would have had no hesitation in imprisoning Maher.

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