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Former Ulster star accused of bugging home and stealing £250k from his estranged wife

By Paul Higgins

Retired rugby star Simon Danielli, who is accused of assaulting his estranged wife, had his assets frozen and was questioned over allegations he stole £250,000 from her bank account, a court has heard.

The revelation came at Newtownards Magistrates Court during the cross-examination of 29-year-old Olivia Danielli.

Defence QC Mark Mulholland revealed that Mrs Danielli, the daughter of millionaire businessman Shamus Jennings, and her family have so far employed "three sets of solicitors, three QCs and two junior counsel in several different actions" against the defendant, including parallel court proceedings, non-molestation orders and an industrial tribunal.

He further revealed that the latest allegations of him stealing the money from her bank account saw the High Court freeze Mr Danielli's assets. His home was also searched by police on foot of a warrant and he was questioned by officers.

Suggesting to Mrs Danielli that it was "all a fabrication against this man who your father said he would destroy", Mr Mulholland told her since she made the allegations, her husband's assets have been unfrozen and "the police have said he is no longer a suspect".

The mother-of-three said as far as she was concerned "that case isn't closed yet" and she is awaiting news from a lawyer who is off for a month.

But Mr Mulholland retorted that "you may be in for an unpleasant surprise" when that lawyer returns to work.

Former Ulster and Scotland rugby star 37-year-old Simon Danielli, with an address at The Coaches in Holywood, is on trial accused of assaulting Mrs Danielli and her friend Michael Browne, as well as damaging his wife's mobile phone on March 11, 2015.

It is alleged he attacked Mr Browne in the street, suspecting he was having an affair with his wife.

Mrs Danielli has testified about the alleged assaults, but also claimed that afterwards when she got home, Danielli was ripping wires and bugging devices from the walls of the then marital home.

Mr Mulholland claimed that what his client had actually been removing the night of the incident were TV gadgets, internet cables and a stereo system - but Mrs Danielli maintained they were bugging devices, claiming that she had them removed once before "but he got them back in again".

In cross examination yesterday, she herself accepted defence suggestions that she had placed a GPS tracking device in her husband's car after they had separated so that "I would know when he was coming to my house".

She denied "over-egging" what had actually happened to herself and Mr Browne, or that inconsistencies between her evidence, police statements and other legal documents indicate she is "making it up".

The lawyer highlighted that in parallel court proceedings and in applying for a non-molestation order against Danielli, Mrs Danielli had claimed her hair had been pulled with such force that her extensions had been pulled out and that she saw him "standing" on Mr Browne's head during the alleged attack - none of which she mentioned in her police statement or in her evidence.

Mrs Danielli told Mr Mulholland that when she made her original police statement, it had been in the early hours of the morning not long after the incident, so "I was tired and I was very distressed".

Mrs Danielli also denied the suggestion that it was in fact she who had hit the rugby player on the back of the head with her phone.

Mr Mulholland raised an apparent exchange of text messages in the days leading up to the incident where "there's a photograph of you together and there's a reference to such things as 'naked night'." But Mrs Danielli, with an address on the Marino Station Road in Holywood, claimed her estranged husband had faked text messages before.

At one stage Mr Mulholland asked Mrs Danielli if she was aware that in October 2014 "after a long standing affair" with a man the lawyer named, "your father texted Simon saying, 'Please don't give up Simon, it's worth trying and I will deal with any third party issues'."

But by the time the marriage had broken down, Mr Jennings allegedly sent him a text threatening that he would "destroy" Danielli while Mrs Jennings mistakenly sent him a message intended for her daughter that "Si has no idea what lies ahead of him".

Mr Mulholland gave a document from January 2015 to Mrs Danielli which was described as a "10-point plan of reconciliation". The lawyer claimed that "one point of his was 'no more affairs'."

Mrs Danielli claimed: "I also said the same to him."

District Judge Mark Hamill interrupted the cross examination, telling Mr Mulholland he was "far more interested in the physical activities on that night and the starting point being that your client accepts that he assaulted Mr Browne rather than an excruciating analysis of a marriage breakdown".

At one point in the three-hour cross examination as Mr Mulholland was asking about the alleged "long standing affair", the judge warned: "This is a very public arena. There are families involved and there are children involved."

Following a brief consultation with Mr Danielli, Mr Mulholland told the judge: "I won't be pursuing that line of questioning." The case continues.

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