‘Thug’ businessman leaves man blind in one eye while hitting him while queuing at gas station

A businessman got angry in a gas station store and attacked a customer as a “thug”, blinding him with his left eye.

The shocking assault occurred at Essar petrol station in London Road, Coalville, on Saturday April 10.

Mohammed Benlaadar, of Greenfields Drive in the city, admitted to inflicting grievous bodily harm on his victim, a bus driver on leave who was shopping in the store around 4 p.m.

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The 31-year-old defendant, who ran a successful vehicle sales business in Coalville with “multi-million pound sales,” also admitted to common assault against a female staff member – who stepped in to stop the violence – and damage a display.

Prosecutor Eunice Opare-Addo told Leicester Crown Court the defendant objected to the victim’s time to buy goods and resolve a bank card issue.

He asked if he could just “pay and go”, but the cashier told him to wait his turn.

He told the man in front to “hurry up” and called him a “jerk”.

As the defendant left, the plaintiff grabbed the back of his collar to challenge him on what he had said earlier, the court said.

A female employee stepped in between them and told the accused to leave, but he stopped on the way out and picked up a rack displaying Cadbury’s eggs and knocked it over.

He punched the victim, knocking her to the ground, leaving him “stunned and dazed”.

Benlaadar then pushed the employee against a Costa coffee machine.

Miss Opare-Addo said: “He came back and approached the victim, who was on all fours begging him not to assault her further, then left.”

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The victim suffered from bruising and swelling on the face, bleeding in the socket of the eye and abrasions on the arms.

He underwent eye surgery but was left with permanent blindness in his left eye and no prospect of recovery.

The prosecutor said he was in severe pain constantly and was unable to sleep.

He had enjoyed his job as a bus driver and was devastated by the loss of his career as a driver and faced an “uncertain future”, Miss Opare-Addo added.

She said he was now due to have surgery for an ocular prosthesis and added: “He feels like his life is on hold.”

During the conviction, recorder Francesca Levett told Benlaadar: “There was a totally unnecessary argument with the client, generated by frustration and impatience, as he tried to sort out a problem with a payment.”

She said she had accepted that the first skirmish was “six on one and a half dozen on the other,” but what happened next was “a horrendous act of thug behavior” during a “catastrophic loss of anger”.

Ms Levett said: “You threw three punches, I accept that was impulsive.

“The effect on him was devastating.

“His eye is indeed dead and will need to be removed and the operation will cause him pain and anxiety – and he and his partner are worried about the risks involved.

Leicester Crown Court
The case was heard at Leicester Crown Court

“His position as a professional pilot is now untenable.”

She said the victim’s finances had suffered significantly and he was struggling to pay the rent on his house.

The tape recorder said she was suspending Benlaadar’s sentence and “effectively putting you under house arrest” with a labeled curfew – because his incarceration would affect other “innocent” people who depended on him, including three employees, her pregnant partner and her mother.

Jonathan Dunne, mitigating, said the victim started the incident by grabbing the accused, who he said tore his client’s sweater and caused the initial scuffle.

Mr Dunne added: “Mr Benlaadar had no idea his punch would cause this injury and he did not enter the store with the intention of causing trouble.”

He claimed that only one of the three punches thrown made contact.

The lawyer added that if the accused went to jail immediately, his vehicle business, which he had built up over the years, would collapse, leaving the employees jobless.

Mr Dunn said it was a case of “excessive self-defense” which was “impulsive and short-lived”.

Benlaadar was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was placed under an electronically monitored home curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

He was also ordered to pay the victim £ 1,000 compensation, within 28 days – to help cover his living expenses.

The recorder said the payment did not represent the severity of the injury, which had to be dealt with separately by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

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