A CLEANER has been spared a conviction after slapping an 11-year-old girl who allegedly poured a drink over his wife's head.
Redas Jonka, a 43-year-old Lithuanian man living in Co. Clare struck the girl across the face with an open hand at the SkyCourt shopping centre in Shannon in September last year.
He had reportedly "snapped" after receiving a phone call from his distressed wife who told him she was being abused by a group of Irish kids. Then, he witnessed one of them pouring the drink over the head of his wife.
"I asked them to leave and they said ‘you Polish bastard, do you want some juice too?’ I got so angry I could barely remember anything," he told gardai.
Judge John King did not convict Mr Jokna, a father of one, and instead gave him the benefit of the Probation Act and ordered him pay to pay €500 to the court poor box.
He said this was due to gardai confirming there had been provocation before the assault and because a number of businesses at the SkyCourt shopping centre provided letters of support for the Lithuanian, who along with his wife was working as a cleaner at the centre.
"You can’t hit an 11-year old child no matter what," the judge said.
Tara Godfrey, who was defending Mr Jonka argued that her client was subject "to severe provocation" while at work and "snapped" when slapping the girl.
She added that there had been constant and consistent bullying of her client's partner by a group of youths at the shopping centre, and that a phone call from his crying wife just tipped Mr Jonka over the edge.
Ms Godfrey insisted that her client "sincerely regrets what he did" and "knows absolutely what he did was wrong".
One of the letters provided in support of Mr Jonka said he was "very dependable, courteous and a diligent worker".
It also stated that the group of young people involved in the incident had been constantly causing trouble, and had been barred from the centre at the time.
According to Ms Godfrey, Mr Jokna has lived in Ireland for eight years and has no previous convictions. He and his partner have a 10-year-old child.
The Lithuanian's employer was told of the incident, but reportedly and perhaps rather tellingly, Mr Jonka did not lose his job.