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A HOMELESS man who stole chips from a diner's plate has been banned from an area of Hereford city centre for constantly being abusive.

Michael Croke pleaded guilty to five counts of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause to harassment, alarm or distress.

The 58-year-old is now banned from part of High Street (from Broad Street to Eign Gate), High Town (from Widemarsh Street), the whole length of Commercial Street (starting from the Kerry), and Tesco supermarket in Bewell Street for the next five years. 


He was also handed a two-year-old restraining order barring him from contacting a 16-year-old girl who felt compelled to buy alcohol for him after he was abusive.

Hereford Magistrates Court heard of several incidents where Croke was abusive and threatening to people, while on one occasion he even started eating chips from another person's plate.

He will have to pay her £50 in compensation to all of his victims, with a 12-month community order also being imposed. 

Hereford Magistrates Court heard that Croke was abusive at the following locations:


On January 7, Croke entered McDonald's despite being barred.

"When the manager asked him to leave, he said, 'let's take this outside then," said prosecuting solicitor Lauren Millichip.


At 3pm on January 17, Croke started eating chips from the plate of a customer in the café of M&S.  

Ms Millichip said: "When the manager asked him to leave, he said, 'be careful when walking at night'.


The court heard that Croke was abusive to a security guard at Hereford's Bewell Street Tesco supermarket, threatening to kill him and calling him 'a rat'.

Commercial Street

On January 23, a 16-year-old girl was walking towards Sensory & Rye from McDonald's, in Commercial Street, when she was asked by Croke if she had any change. However, she  told him she didn't, Croke asked about her bank card so that he could get some alcohol.

"She thought he was being forceful asking about her bank card," said Ms Millichip.

"She felt distressed and had no choice but to do what he told her to do."



At 3.30pm on February 4, Croke was abusive towards both a barista and the manager of the coffee shop chain, calling them rats. The court heard he was aggressive and threatening throughout the exchange. 


At 5.50pm on February 14, Croke entered the Kings Fee Wetherspoons pub in Commercial Road, despite being barred. 

"He was loud and shouting at people," said Ms Millichip.

"Staff reported it to the duty manager. Mr Croke had previously been barred and was asked to leave." 

When Croke was told the manager would call the police if he refused, he swore at him and called him a rat. At court, Croke pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a community protection order.


Representing Croke, Marilena Di Vitantonio said her client was shocked by the incidents, especially getting a 16-year-old to buy him alcohol.

"He hasn't been before the court since 2021," she said.

"He's been on the streets for a number of years. It's anti-social behaviour but at the time he didn't realise it. He's an alcoholic."

As part of his community order, Croke will have to comply with a six-month alcohol treatment plan and attend 16 rehabilitation activity days centred on accommodation and wellbeing. 

He was also fined £20 and has to pay a government surcharge of £114.