A restaurant diner berated a mum-and-child while he was high on cocaine in Pizza Express – then attacked the Good Samaritan who tried to usher the mother-and-child to safety.

Jonathan Pearse’s behaviour in the Henley branch of the Italian restaurant chain was branded ‘completely bizarre’ by his own solicitor when the case came before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Prosecutor Jay Singh told the justices that 46-year-old Pearse was in Pizza Express, in Market Place, at around 6pm on March 8.

He ordered a salad but, when his food arrived, became ‘enraged’. He shouted and screamed at staff before turning his attentions to a mother and her child who were at the next table.

Another diner, Good Samaritan Rakesh Pathak, escorted the mother-and-child to their car outside the restaurant.

Oxford Mail: Jonathan Pearse outside Oxford Magistrates' CourtJonathan Pearse outside Oxford Magistrates' Court (Image: Oxford Mail)

Pearse followed the trio out of the building, shoving Mr Pathak a number of times, causing him to lose his balance and fall backwards.

Ms Singh said: “Mr Pearse continued to goad him but Mr Pathak walked away, back to the Pizza Express.”

The defendant was locked out of the restaurant. From outside, he continued to shout at the victim of the assault.

Police arrived to arrest Pearse at around 6.50pm. He was searched and the officers found a gramme of what turned out to be cocaine.

In mitigation, it was claimed that the defendant had used the toilet in the restaurant, where he saw a ‘sticker on the wall about safeguarding children’.

As a result of the drugs he had taken, he decided -wrongly - that the Good Samaritan was ‘someone who was harming the child’, it was suggested.

Pearse came from a ‘decent background’ but had struggled with an entrenched drug problem. He was working well with the probation service on an existing community order.

Appearing before the justices on Thursday, Pearse, of St Peter’s Street, St Albans, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, using threatening behaviour with intent to cause fear of violence and assault by beating.

He had previous convictions, including for battery, and was on a community order at the time of the Pizza Express incident.

The magistrates bailed Pearse to return to court on November 3 for sentence. They ordered a pre-sentence report, with the probation officer tasked to consider ‘all options’ – including prison.

If the magistrates choose not to commit the case to the crown court for sentence, they have powers to impose up to 12 months’ imprisonment.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward