Published: 05:00, 12 October 2021
| Updated: 14:37, 12 October 2021
A thief who stole "as much meat as he could carry" punched a Tesco boss who tried to stop him unconscious, a court heard.
But Lee Kennelly argued he was acting in self-defence after the Ramsgate store manager assaulted his girlfriend.
The 37-year-old was found guilty of actual bodily harm after a three-day trial at Canterbury Crown Court which concluded this week.
"Events started by this defendant stealing various joints of meat," prosecutor Matthew Hodgetts said.
"He was only in the shop for a short period of time. He went straight to the chiller area and took as much meat as he could carry."
CCTV played in court showed Kennelly wearing a red T-shirt, hurrying outside, arms full with meat joints.
Store boss Tregarron Cross chased Kennelly and his girlfriend to a nearby church when a scuffle unfolded in December 2018.
"I hadn't seen the man until he punched me in the head"
When Mr Cross was pushed to the floor, Kennelly set upon him, the prosecutor continued.
"This defendant stood over him and punched him in the face. Mr Cross blacked out for a little while, while being subject to that assault," he said.
When Kennelly was arrested he told officers Mr Cross assaulted his girlfriend and claimed self-defence, jurors heard.
Mr Cross, who suffered facial swelling following the ordeal, told jurors Kennelly cradled the meat towards his chest when he requested for the items to be returned.
Asked about his recollection of the attack, he said someone pushed him to the ground when he was punched "at least a dozen times all in the head".
"I hadn't seen the man until he punched me in the head," he said, adding: "I was punched very hard, I've only been punched like that once before. I felt dizzy. He tried headbutting me as well as I was getting to my feet."
Kennelly and his girlfriend disappeared before police arrived, he went on.
Kennelly, of Manston Road, was found guilty of occasioning actual bodily harm and was jailed for 15 months.
Wearing a dark blue T-shirt with two dock officers in court, Kennelly remained passive throughout the hearing.