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Tesco worker denies threat to behead his colleague

A TESCO worker who allegedly threatened to behead a colleague and throw it on the roof after she refused to take part in a scam marriage is claiming he was wrongly dismissed.

The bizarre row between staff at the Dublin 4 supermarket was the subject of an Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday where Yasir Azad said that the death threats were "contrived allegations".

Mr Azad (28), an accountancy student originally from Pakistan, claims that he was unfairly dismissed by Tesco.

Evidence was given to the tribunal by two Polish co-workers who alleged that Mr Azad offered them thousands of euro in exchange for a "paper marriage". The tribunal heard that Mr Azad had lived in Ireland for several years but his student visa was close to expiration and he wanted to get an Irish visa.

Rachael Garton, store manager at Tesco in Sandymount at the time, testified that two female employees complained to her of feeling "very frightened and distressed" by the threats allegedly made by Mr Azad.

Rude

Mr Azad worked alongside the women on the night shift at the same store. Ms Garton said that he made the threats after they rebuffed his offers of marriage in exchange for between €8,000 and €10,000 "because his visa was running out".

Tesco worker Kasia Nowacka, who was Mr Azad's line manager on the night shift, told the tribunal that Mr Azad asked her about three or four times if he would marry her for money, including twice on the same night in October 2009. He first offered about €8,000 and then increased the offers to between €10,000 and €15,000, she said.

After she refused the offers, he "started to be really rude" and refused to do tasks that she asked him to complete, she said.

Asked if she would work with him again, she said: "No. He's scaring me. He scared me before and it's still somewhere inside."

However, during cross examination by Mr Azad's counsel Oisin Scollard, she said she only made a formal complaint to management against him after she read derogatory comments about her posted on what she believed was his Facebook page.

"I was really angry after I saw what he wrote," she said.

Her colleague Liga Mikalauska testified that Mr Azad told her he'd like to "cut off Kasia's head and put it on the roof". On another occasion after a jar of beetroot broke on the floor, Mr Azad made a reference to the blood-like juice and said he'd "like to spill Kasia's blood", in the same way, she said.

She also claimed that Mr Azad asked her to marry him in exchange for between €3,000 and €5,000, but she refused.

Ugly

But she could not tell the tribunal why she didn't go to the gardai with her complaints.

Ms Garton, meanwhile, testified that she called Mr Azad to a meeting on April 10, 2010, after another employee, whom she admitted was her brother, showed her a Facebook page believed to be Mr Azad's which he had allegedly sent him.

The page included a photo of her with a caption that read: "She is stupid, twice as ugly, but she's a manager." Ms Garton said she had no idea how the photo got on to the Facebook page but she believes it was taken at a staff Christmas party.

"He [Mr Azad] was asked if he set it up and he denied it," she said. Mr Azad was then summoned to a disciplinary hearing over the allegations on April 13, 2010, in which he was suspended on full pay pending an investigation, she said.

Asked why she didn't refer the alleged death threats and fraudulent marriage proposals to gardai, Ms Garton responded that it was company policy to deal with such issues internally.

"An alleged death threat? Is that an internal matter?" Mr Scollard asked. The hearing has been adjourned until June 7.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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