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Lidl strange Lidl shopper who pulled knife after being told to wear mask says he's 'not a gangster'

"I am not a gangster and I don't think I will start at 61 years old."

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Francisco Garcia at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare

Francisco Garcia at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare

Francisco Garcia at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare

A Lidl shopper who wielded a knife at a pensioner after the older man told him to wear a mask insists he never intended to harm anyone.

Francisco Garcia (61) admitted to the Sunday World he had drawn the penknife in the course of a dispute after the pensioner confronted him three times over his failure to wear a mask.

But, he claimed, he had been standing a good six metres distance from the man at the time he had pulled the weapon, and had only done so in an effort to be allowed continue his shopping in peace.

"I told the gardaí all of this," Francisco told our reporter.

"I am not a gangster and I don't think I will start at 61 years old."

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Francisco Garcia talking to Patrick O'Connell (left) at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare.

Francisco Garcia talking to Patrick O'Connell (left) at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare.

Francisco Garcia talking to Patrick O'Connell (left) at his home in Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare.

Details of the confrontation in the Lidl supermarket in Edenderry on December 22, 2021 emerged at Tullamore District Court this week.

Garcia pleaded guilty to being in possession of a knife and with threatening another man when the case was called before Judge Alec Gabbett.

The offences, the court heard, took place when Garcia, with an address at Pine Tree House, Lullymore, Rathangan, threatened Tim O'Connor with a knife when he told him to wear a mask.

When he was stopped by gardai driving out of Lidl he threw the knife on to the passenger seat. Mr Garcia had six previous convictions, all for road traffic violations.

Solicitor Donal Farrelly said the defendant was from Chile and was living in a smallholding outside Edenderry with his wife. He grows his own food and he wasn't aware he had to wear a mask.

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Lidl in Edenderry, Co Offaly.

Lidl in Edenderry, Co Offaly.

Lidl in Edenderry, Co Offaly.

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Mr Farrelly said the other man had berated Mr Garcia for not wearing a mask.

He told the court Mr Garcia had a back complaint which interfered with his breathing.

Speaking with the Sunday World in the garden of his Rathangan home on Wednesday, Mr Garcia told us he would have no issue with apologising to Mr O'Connor.

"I lived in Germany for 15 years and I never had a problem with the law," he said.

"I have lived abroad all my life.

"I came to Ireland in 2003 and never have I had any problems here.

"I am a peaceful person.

"But this man, three or four times, when he saw me he gave out to me … this was a stranger and he was talking really loud and people were looking at me.

"I didn't have a mask. So the last time, I thought I cannot continue accepting this treatment.

"He was an old man, maybe 70, I mean I am an old man but he was older. So, I told him you don't know me … I could knock you down. And then I saw he was limping so I could not jump on him.

"But I walked four, five, six metres away from him and then I turned and I told him the next time I see him, if he talks to me, I would knock him down.

"I had a little pocket-knife, I was in Lidl to get the sauces and cheese for sandwiches, and I took it out of my pocket. It was just a little knife.

"Never was I a threat. All I wanted was that the next time the man saw me he would leave me in peace."

Garcia told us that after the incident the gardaí took the knife from him.

"I will apologise and I will not do it again. I told the gardaí … I am not a gangster and I don't think I will start at 61 years old."

Asked whether he had returned to Lidl since the incident, Francisco confirmed that he had.

"Yeah, I go. They know me there. The people in this town know me because I used to do TV repairs. I am a peaceful person … the people know that."

Solicitor Donal Farrelly described the knife as a pen knife which Mr Garcia used to cut food.

Having looked at a picture Judge Alec Gabbett remarked that it looked like a very large knife.

Sgt James O'Sullivan said the picture had been scaled up.

Donal Farrelly described Mr Garcia as a "small man" who is 61.

He said he stood a good distance back from Mr O'Connor.

Judge Gabbett asked what would have happened if the other man produced a knife. He said the whole situation would have scaled up.

"How do I know this wouldn't happen again?" he asked, adding he had a duty to the public.

Mr Farrelly said his client was very sorry for what happened and had never been in trouble before and it wouldn't happen again.

Mr Garcia said he was a peaceful man.

Judge Gabbett put the matter back for a probation report, adding that Mr Garcia needed some type of supervision.

He extended bail until May 4 and granted legal aid in the case to Mr Farrelly.

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