A Lhanbryde Spar customer who was shopping for butteries suffered bloody injuries in a vicious attack during a row about the store’s automatic door.
Mehmet Balci, 45, went on trial at Elgin Sheriff Court following his violent outburst inside the Spar on St Andrew’s Road, Lhanbryde, on December 30 2022.
He represented himself in court – previously dismissing his defence agent – after protesting his innocence and refusing to reach a plea bargain agreement.
Giving evidence, 40-year-old victim George Milton told the court that he had gone into the shop for his morning coffee and found himself in an “altercation” with Balci.
Mr Milton explained there had been a discussion about the store’s automatic door and Balci was making a comment about it “being disabled”.
A row erupted but Balci left the Spar and then sat in his car, waiting for Mr Milton to leave.
“I had got my coffees, but this shop did not have any butteries in, so I was going over the road to get some from another shop,” Mr Milton explained.
“I saw [Balci] in his car at the traffic lights and the next thing I knew, I was being attacked.”
Elgin man Mehmet Balci bit George Milton during a vicious attack in Lhanbryde’s Spar
Mr Milton told the court that – once back inside the shop – Balci had bitten him, pulled his beard and punched him.
He added: “I was in fear. I ran back into the shop for safety. I knew in there I would be seen. I did not try and retaliate”.
Mr Milton told the court he needed dental treatment to fix teeth that were broken during the ordeal and he also received a tetanus shot for Balci’s bite.
“He took chunks out of my chest,” Mr Milton said, adding: “I still have the scars.”
Gallery – see the bloody injuries Mehmet Balci inflicted on George Milton:
Under cross-examination from Balci, Mr Milton denied there had been any racial motivation or comments made towards his attacker.
The court also heard evidence from Spar shop worker Suzanne Fraser, 50, who had been working at the time of the attack.
CCTV camera footage from inside the shop and video from an outside camera facing towards the road was played to the court.
Ms Fraser described the two men at one point being “nose-to-nose” during an argument about the shop door.
She explained: “Mehmet was stood at the door and it wasn’t opening. I joked and said it was human error. It was all good-natured and then George joined in.”
The witness said what happened next was some “argy-bargy” and Balci left the shop, followed shortly afterward by Mr Milton.
Video evidence showed Balci chasing Mr Milton back to the shop from the road, attacking him – first in the doorway and then pushing him back into the shop.
Mehmet Balci claimed he’d been called a ‘f****** foreign bastard’ by his assault victim George Milton
Under cross-examination, Balci asked Ms Fraser why she was not telling the court what she had heard Mr Milton say.
“He called me a stupid foreign bastard,” Balci added.
But Ms Fraser replied that she had not heard the word “foreign” being used.
The prosecutor – fiscal depute Victoria Silver – took Police Constable Ian Wilson, who also gave evidence, through his interview with Balci on December 30 last year.
The court heard Balci had said he went to the shop to buy chewing gum but a fight had broken out after another customer shouted at him.
Reading from Balci’s interview, Ms Silver said: “He called me a f****** foreign bastard. We started fighting. The lady came out and told us to stop. I was defending myself. I bit his finger”.
Balci also gave evidence, claiming he was a well-educated man who had “never touched anybody’s property” and telling the court: “I am very innocent”.
Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov said she had considered all the evidence and the CCTV camera footage and said there had “quite clearly” been an assault on Mr Milton.
The sheriff could see no evidence of any racial abuse directed at Balci, of Cooperage Close, Elgin.
“Mr Milton did not put up a fight and consequently he was injured. Mr Balci was not. I find [Balci] guilty,” she added.
Sentencing was deferred for reports until Jan 18 2024.
Speaking after the court case, Mr Milton said he was “fine pleased” it was all over.
“I’ve been left with permanent scarring and one of my tattoos will never be able to be fixed,” he told The Press and Journal.
“I had gone back into the shop later that day and the quine handed me my beard back. Until then, I hadn’t realised how much of it he had pulled out.
“I did eventually get my butteries.”
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