Former Formula One star Eddie Irvine has been sentenced to six months in jail after a nightclub brawl in Milan - but is unlikely to spend time behind bars.
An Italian court this morning heard details of a bar brawl between the Northern Irishman and another man in a row over a woman.
Irvine claimed that Gabriele Moratti, the son of a former mayor of Milan, punched him three times while he was sitting in the VIP area of a nightclub in Milan.
The incident occurred on December 20th, 2008.
Witnesses who have previously given evidence to the court claimed that the row started over a text Irvine is said to have sent to a woman - named only as Georgia - who was former girlfriend of Moratti.
The court heard witnesses describe both men as “protagonists” in the incident.
In a statement to the Milanese court, Irvine said he was talking to Georgia on a couch in the VIP area of a nightclub in the city when Moratti approached him.
“I was struck by Moratti with two or three punches , I lost my balance and fell,” he said.
Irvine said he was struck from behind, and didn’t look back as he was afraid
The court was told a pilot intervened to stop Moratti hitting him, Irvine claimed.
Moratti claimed Irvine pulled a glass in his face and he was left with marks above his eye.
Both men were today sentenced by judge Marco Formentin to six months in jail.
Irvine’s lawyer Marco Baroncini said the racing driver is the “partial winner” from the case, it was reported.
“I know that Eddie proposes to appeal,” he said.
Because an appeal is likely from both men, legal experts in Italy have indicated that because the statute of limitations will expire at the end of 2015 the case is likely to be declared null and void.
It is therefore unlikely that either man will serve prison time.
Some Italian media are reporting that a fine of approximately €50,000 is more likely.
Mr Moratti was in court this morning but Mr Irvine was not.
Father-of-one Eddie (48), who is originally from Newtownards, Co Down, now spends much of his time abroad, taking regular trips to Ibiza, Monte Carlo and Milan.
His Formula One carees spanned almost two decades between 1993 and 2002 and saw him with Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar.
Outside of F1, Irvine built up a lucrative property empire and was reported as having as many as 40 properties all over the world.
In 2006, he was reported to be worth as much as €200m.