AN ARGUMENT over wearing a face mask turned violent when a shop worker was punched in the face, a court was told.

Sean Strachan, 36, entered McColl’s convenience store, Delta Drive, Musselburgh, during a period of lockdown in 2020 without a face mask on.

He was told that he would not be served due to not wearing a mask and, after initially leaving the shop, he returned soon after and punched employee Michael Hammond in the face.

The shop worker suffered swelling to his mouth and a cut to his chin and he soon informed the police of the assault on July 13, 2020.

Strachan appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last Friday where he pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Mr Hammond.

Struck on the lip

Fiscal depute Abbie McKearlie told the court: “On the date libelled at around 3.30pm, Mr Hammond and Shona King were working in their employment at the locus.

“Mr Strachan entered the locus and joined the queue for the post office.

“There were words exchanged between Mr Strachan and Mr Hammond which resulted in Mr Hammond asking the accused to leave the store.

“The accused left the store but returned a short time later and at this point Mr Strachan assaulted Mr Hammond by punching him on the face with a closed fist before walking away.”

The court was told that the shop employee was struck on the lip, “causing swelling and a small cut to the chin”.

Police were alerted to the assault but the court heard that officers could not trace the accused at the time and he was arrested at a later date.

'Discussion about face masks'

Solicitor Angela Craig said that the incident had taken place during the period of the first Covid-19 lockdown in July 2020 and since the incident Strachan had been allowed back in the shop.

Ms Craig said: “He went in to buy something and there was a discussion about face masks.

“Mr Strachan did not have one and he was effectively refused service by the shop.”

The lawyer said that her client was a plasterer who was currently unemployed and was recovering from a recent shoulder operation which would see him unable to carry out unpaid work for the next three months.

Ms Craig added: “He has learned a lesson from this.”

'Vital to the community'

Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss said: “You do have a record for public disorder.

“This crime is aggravated by the fact you assaulted someone who was working within a shop.

“These local shops were vital to the community during the Covid period and in particular the reason and background behind the assault relates to a time when people were very anxious.”

Strachan, of Moir Terrace, was fined a total of £470.

Strachan pleaded guilty to assaulting Michael Hammond by punching him on the head at McColl’s, Delta Drive, Musselburgh, on July 13, 2020.