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Jobless man spat in welfare officer's face over rent wait

A RENT allowance applicant spat in a community welfare officer's face and accused him of being a racist over delays in his claim being processed, a court heard.

Wojciech Makarski (27) flew into a rage at a Dublin HSE office, lunged over the counter and spat on the shocked officer after he became frustrated over the length of time his claim was taking.

He was found guilty of assaulting the man when he appeared in Dublin District Court.

Makarski had denied the charge, maintaining he only "exhaled" heavily because he felt "helpless" when he was told he needed more documentation.

Judge Dermot Dempsey fined him €750 for what he described as a "despicable" act and said Makarski was lucky he was not going to jail.

The accused, of Church Road Drive, Belmayne, went to Kilbarrack Health Centre on February 4, 2010, for one of several appointments relating to his claim for rent supplement.



REJECTED

The community welfare officer, Eric O'Quinn, said he had been working on the defendant's case since colleagues had rejected his application some months earlier.

This was because when staff called to his address, he was unavailable.

He told the defendant on the day he would need additional documentation to support his claim. He asked the accused to get someone to vouch for money that he said was loaned to him while he had no income, or to provide a bank statement.

The accused took issue with this and Mr O'Quinn explained to him that he could not help him any further that day.

"He said I was racist, he became very aggressive and lunged at me over the counter", Mr O'Quinn said.

"I feared he was going to assault me with a headbutt, that he was going to swing at me."

Mr O'Quinn leaned back and the accused spat in his face.

The defendant maintained that he was asked on the day to provide documents that he had already sent in to the office.

He claimed Mr O'Quinn told him it was "impossible" that he had been living off loans from friends and refused to speak to him any further, opened the door and said: "Out. Next."

aphelan@herald.ie


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