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Addict attacked shopkeeper with sword while “out of his head”

Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson

A man has received a suspended sentence for attacking a shopkeeper and his son with part of a wooden sword after the shopkeeper broke the sword over his car.

Keith Johnson went into Gill's Indian Mini-Market while he was “out of his head” and attempted to steal some sweets.

When he was confronted by the store owner's son, Daljat Gill, he threatened to kill him and “cut him in half”. He then punched the man in the face and fled in a Mercedes.

The store owner, Sarwan Gill, then took a wooden “martial arts training sword” from behind the counter and chased Johnson's car down the road. When Johnson got caught in traffic at Hanlon's Corner Sarwan hit the car with the sword, breaking it in two.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Johnson became “infuriated” and exited the car before picking up one half of the weapon and chasing the shopkeeper back towards his shop.

By this stage Daljat had recovered from the punch and was standing outside the shop. Johnson caught up to father and son and struck Sarwan with the sword, breaking his wrist.

Daljat picked up the part of the sword dropped by his father but was then attacked by Johnson who struck him about five times on the head and knocked him unconscious.

Sarwan then picked up part of the sword and attacked Johnson, forcing him to flee. Johnson was later identified on CCTV by gardaí and arrested.

Johnson (26) of Faith Avenue, East Wall, Dublin pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing harm at the shop on Cabra Road on May 6, 2014. His 62 previous convictions are “all consistent with a life of addiction”, his defence counsel said.

Garda Ciaran Whelan told prosecuting counsel Garrett Baker BL that Sarwan needed surgery to repair his wrist with a metal pin and continues to suffer as a result.

He said that during interview Johnson claimed he was acting in self defence during the incident. The garda accepted he brought no weapon to the shop and hadn't intended to attack anyone when he went in.

Defence counsel Sean Gillane SC said Johnson has a heroin addiction but has now “turned his life around” with the help of a drug treatment programme. He also submitted that the father of one entered an early guilty plea to the charges.

Judge Martin Nolan said his first inclination was to jail Johnson and that it “was a close run thing.” He said the situation escalated very quickly and Sarwan Gill was “perfectly entitled to do what he did.”

Judge Nolan said that Johnson deserves a chance despite his disgraceful behaviour and imposed a three year sentence suspended for three years with two years probation supervision.