A SHOPLIFTER attacked an elderly shopkeeper, leaving him with a fractured eye socket after he asked for his goods back.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Ejaz Ahmed, who is in his 80s, has been left with blurred vision after being attacked by Michael Chiappinelli, who also assaulted Mr Ahmed’s wife and a pedestrian.

Chiappinelli, aged 29, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison after admitting causing GBH, two assaults and theft.

Alison Heyworth, prosecuting, told how Mr Ahmed and his wife, Nasreem, aged 54, were working at their unit, next to the Octagon Theatre, selling workwear on March 25.

Mrs Ahmed spotted Chiappinelli trying on a high viz jacket which was on display outside the unit.

“She repeatedly asked him to remove it but he walked away still wearing it, having not paid for it,” said Miss Heyworth.

She followed him towards Morrisons and Chiappinelli was seen to push Mrs Ahmed into railings, causing her to fall to the ground.

“Mr Ahmed went to speak to his wife, who was clearly very upset and he approached the defendant and challenged him about what he had done,” said Miss Heyworth.

But Chiappinelli, who was aggressive and angry, shouted at him: “I will give you three seconds to f*** off.” Mr Ahmed tried to calm the situation, saying he just wanted the jacket back, but Chiappinelli counted down from three and then punched Mr Ahmed in the right eye and he fell over.

“Mr Ahmed felt immense pain and was unable to see out of his eye,” said Miss Heyworth, who added that the victim has been left with a numbness in his face.

Chiappinelli walked off towards Sainsbury’s where he hit a pedestrian, Stephen Swinton, as he was trying to cross the road. The victim was hit from behind and swung a punch back at Chiappinelli, before being hit again in the head and had his glasses knocked off.

Police found Chiappinelli on Coe Street, where he was hitting cars, and arrested him.

“He was shouting and screaming as though he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” said Miss Heyworth.

The court heard that Chiappinelli, of Kinsfold Close, Darcy Lever, has a criminal record for offences of violence and theft..

“He’s a man who takes ill against those who challenge him,” commented Judge Timothy Stead.

Andrew Costello, defending, said “He’s an individual who has been assessed as someone who has shown a lack of insight into his behaviour and a lack of understanding and remorse.”

He added that Chiappinelli has mental health difficulties which are not bad enough for him to be in hospital but he is not well enough to be left in society.

Judge Stead jailed Chiappinelli for two years and three months.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Ahmed, who had to take three weeks off work after the attack, said he was “very pleased” with the sentence.

“I didn’t expect it really,” he said.

The shopkeeper, who still has blurred vision, said most shoplifters, when confronted, drop the goods and flee. “But this was very frightening. This guy was looking for a fight really. He wanted to hurt somebody,” he said.

But he is heartened by his customers’ reaction to the attack.

“Everybody commented and said sorry,” he said.