A city lawyer has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 for punching a top fashion designer at the opera.
Matthew Feargrieve, 43, was found guilty in December of assaulting Ulrich Engler after a spat over a front row seat during a performance of Wagner.
Today at Westminster Magistrates Court, Feargrieve, from Barnes, London, was made to pay £2,265 following the argument at the Royal Opera House on October 7, 2018.
District Judge John Zani told the investment funds solicitor that he used ‘excessive force’, after the court heard that Feargrieve lashed out with a ‘constant flow of blow’ after the designer climbed into an empty seat next to Feargrieve’s partner Catherine Chandler and moved her coat.
He said: ‘You really should not have behaved in the way you did.
‘It was excessive. It should not have happened.
‘You are an experienced, professional man and you should know how to behave.’
Mr Engler told City of London Magistrates’ Court at a previous hearing that he had moved into an empty chair in row A from his seat in row B at the London venue three days earlier, and did so again before the attack.
The high-profile lingerie designer, whose clients include the Countess of Derby, said he asked Ms Chandler if he could sit in the vacant seat next to her and if she had purchased it.
When she said no to both questions, he moved into the seat, moving Ms Chandler’s coat and putting it on her lap.
Feargrieve then ‘lashed out’ and punched Mr Engler at least once, the court heard.
Mr Engler, whose ban by the opera house was later rescinded, added that he was attacked at least 10 minutes into the performance and left with injuries to his left side.
He claimed he was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At a previous hearing, Feargrieve said he only pushed Mr Engler in self-defence after he attacked Ms Chandler, his partner of 13 years.
But Judge Zani did not accept Feargrieve’s account and after a one-day trial, the lawyer was found guilty of common assault.
Reading Mr Engler’s victim impact statement, prosecutor Jennifer Fadaka said: ‘I had numerous blows to my upper body, causing bruising to my ribs.
But Lisa Wilding QC, defending Feargrieve, argued today that there was a lack of evidence to show the PTSD was caused by the assault.
Sentencing, Judge Zani said there appeared to be ‘little genuine remorse’ from Feargrieve about what happened.
‘You have lost your good character and you have suffered emotionally and financially considerably because of this.’
Judge Zani fined Feargrieve £900, costs of £775, compensation of £500 to the victim and a victim surcharge of £90. The combined total of £2,355, must be paid within 14 days.