A man took a pet sheep on a lead into a Lidl store then went on to assault a store detective, a court has heard.
The extraordinary scenes involving Andrew Meneice, 33, of Glenbush Drive, Portrush, happened at the Lidl store in the seaside town last July.
The defendant was taken to court following the incident and charged with two assaults on the store detective, being disorderly and resisting a police officer in the execution of his duty.
He pleaded guilty to resisting the police officer but contested the other three charges.
At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday he was found guilty of one of the assaults and being disorderly.
The other assault charge was dismissed.
Meneice was jailed for four months, but freed on £500 bail for appeal.
He was also made the subject of a two years restraining order which bans him from taking the animal (called ‘Chops’) into retail premises.
Speaking afterwards, the defendant said he was an animal-lover and after getting ‘Chops’ he gave up eating lamb, adding he also has a pony, goat, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats.
He said he liked animals so much because “I just get on better with them” and said he liked having ‘Chops’ as a pet because “she is better behaved than a dog”.
Regarding the Lidl incident the defendant said he should not have done it but added that he had not caused any harm and there was no damage.
Sentencing the defendant, district judge Liam McNally said: “You paraded around with a sheep, you were making comments about ‘not buying Lidl lamb’. You had no right to be in there with the sheep.”
The judge said the sheep began nibbling at food and Meneice was making “pedantic” comments about the store’s animal policy.
“Staff made reasonable efforts to get you to leave,” said the judge but Meneice then struck an employee with his fists and struck him with a metal pole.
“That’s a situation which this court will not tolerate,” he said.
Judge McNally then asked if he had any powers to restrict the defendant having the sheep in public places.
Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said ‘Chops’ was legitimately registered with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development.
The judge said he was making a two year restraining order banning Meneice from taking his sheep into any retail business other than a sheep mart.
Earlier, Lidl store detective David Bennett had told the court Meneice’s “eyes were glazed” and he appeared intoxicated, becoming agitated and verbally abusive after being told to leave.
Store manager Tomas Fusek said when he told Meneice the only animals allowed in were guide dogs the defendant, who was carrying a tin of Harp lager, told him to “speak English”.
Lidl customer assistant Jonathan Gerrish said Meneice had earlier been in the store that day with his sheep, saying: “Save the sheep” and “Don’t buy lamb in Lidl” and although police had been called the defendant returned.
Meneice told the court he had gone to the store because he had been drinking whilst on medication and said it was a “spur of the moment” decision.
The defendant explained the sheep is now two years and four months old.
Mr Devlin said he accepted his client had acted in an “odd way”.