Britain’s first shopper to be convicted after the shameful scenes of ‘retail rioting’ during the Black Friday sales walked free from court today.
John Ankers, 40, was arrested outside a Tesco store after swinging a punch at police as he tried to buy cheap alcohol when the store opened its doors at midnight to hundreds of shoppers eager to purchase household goods at knockdown prices.
Officers had been called at 12.05am on Friday November 28 to the supermarket in Hattersley, near Hyde, Greater Manchester, where following reports of fighting in store they found 300 people present scrambling for bargains.
Ankers arrived as police advised staff to close the shop just five minutes after its opening to restore order. When told by an officer he could not buy anything he retorted: ”Who closed it, I bet it was you f..king lot’.”
He then added: ”Do you want a f..king go, let’s have a f..king fight, that field outside’.”
Ankers then swung a fist towards the officer, narrowly missing his head and shouted ‘come on then’, before being arrested.
It was one of seven incidents of public disorder involving Tesco shops across Greater Manchester during last month’s infamous midnight mad rush for sales items.
At the time the stunt sparked fury from the county’s Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy who condemned the supermarket chain for ‘creating situations where officers had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers’.
Today at Tameside Magistrates Court, Ankers, from Hyde, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour and was fined £110 with £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £20. He refused to comment afterwards and would only say: ”I’ve been vilified.”
Earlier, Prosecutor Miss Claire Harris said: “It happened on Black Friday on Friday 28th November. Police officers had gone into the Tesco in Hattersley at around 12.30am.
“The defendant tried to enter the store to try and buy alcohol. He was informed by officers it was closed. He said, ‘who closed it, I bet it was you f..king lot’.
“He muttered something under his breath and walked out. A few minutes later police were alerted to a commotion in the foyer. The defendant was stood there.
“He saw the officer that he had previously spoken to and said ‘do you want a f..king go, let’s have a f..king fight, that field outside’. The officer asked what his problem was and began to usher him out of the store.
“He swung a fist towards the officer, narrowly missing his head. He shouted ‘come on then’. He was taken to the ground and arrested.”
The court was told Ankers had 13 convictions for 23 offences and six were public order offences. The last was in January 2013 when he broke into a police station whilst drunk in a bid to steal computers.
For Ankers, Mr Russell Wild said in mitigation: “His perception of matters back on the 28th were that police were singling him out. He accepted that he acted aggressively and doesn’t seek to excuse his actions.
“He also accepts that he has anger management problems and has been on a course for this through his doctor. He is aware that there is a problem and he is trying to do something about it.”
Two other Manchester men are awaiting trial for assault over disturbances during the Black Friday sales in which police were called to seven Tesco stores across Greater Manchester.
At 11.37pm on Thursday November 27, officers were called to Tesco Central Park, Wigan after reports of several hundred people trying to enter the store. Two men were ejected before control was regained.
Officers were also called to Tesco in Failsworth at 11.40pm after more than 500 people attended the store. The Tesco store at Ellesmere Shopping Centre in Walkden was closed down after a crowd of more than 500 people attended. Shoppers were asked to leave.
The Tesco Extra in Stretford was closed after fights broke out between shoppers trying to get their hands on sale stock. A woman suffered minor injuries after being hit by a falling television and an ambulance was called. The store was closed at 12.36am, just over half an hour after the sales event started.
Shortly after 1.05am on Friday November 28, police were called to Tesco on Woodrow Way, Irlam, Salford. One man was arrested on suspicion of assault after staff were threatened to have their ‘face smashed in’ and someone was bitten on the arm.
At 12.40am, officers were called to Tesco Extra on Barton Road, Middleton, following reports that around 200 people would not leave, despite being told stock had all gone. Doors had been locked but they refused to leave.
At the time in his statement, Sir Peter said: “The events of last night were totally predictable and I am disappointed that stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty.
“This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers. It does not help that this was in the early hours when police resources are already stretched.
“Across Greater Manchester large supermarkets already make significant demands on policing through calls to shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and thefts of fuel from their petrol stations – much of which is preventable.
“We just ask these stores to work with us to reduce the demands on policing and reduce the risks of disorder and crime.”
Story via Cavendish Press.
Image courtesy of Lee Moore, via YouTube, with thanks