Belfast Telegraph

Former Ulster star Danielli spent over £500 on listening devices, court hears

By Paul Higgins

Retired rugby star Simon Danielli spent more than £500 on five listening devices from the Online Spy Shop, a judge heard on Friday.

Despite Simon Danielli previously claiming under oath in the witness box that it was "ridiculous" to suggest he was involved in using bugging or listening devices at the marital home, as a result of disclosure applications it has transpired the 37-year-old bought:

  • Two voice activated adapter plugs
  • A CSB listening device which calls the owner when it hears noise, allowing the person to listen in
  • A USB voice recorder stick PRO
  • A pen camera HD recorder

Four of the devices, the court heard, were bought from the Online Spy Shop where, as highlighted by defence QC Eugene Grant, the sellers declare: "is your partner playing away? Get the proof....!"

The CSB listening device, was purchased from Amazon.

Mr Danielli, who was a winger for Ulster and Scotland before he retired from professional rugby in 2012, was not present at Antrim courthouse on Friday where his estranged wife Olivia Danielli is applying to have quashed her conviction for causing criminal damage to a Jaguar car.

Earlier this year mother-of-three, 30-year-old Mrs Danielli, from the Marino Station Road in Holywood, was convicted of damaging the wing mirror and bonnet of a Jaguar XF in August 2015.

t Antrim Court 01.jpg
Olivia Danielli appears at Antrim Court on Friday. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Magistrates Court Judge Mark Hamill fined her £500 and ordered her to pay the £1,800 cost of repairing the damage she caused, telling Mrs Danielli she "attacked the car to get back at him quite clearly and this, I am afraid, is nonsense on stilts".

In March this year the same judge convicted Simon Danielli of assaulting Michael Brown, a man he alleged was having an affair with his wife, and fined him £500 but acquitted the ex-rugby star of assaulting Mrs Danielli arising from the same incident on 11 March 2015.

In relation to the allegation of criminal damage faced by Mrs Danielli, it is the Crown case that enraged over a baby sitting issue, she used the metal handle of an umbrella to break the wing mirror off which she then threw at the bonnet of the luxury £38k motor.

The defence contend however that while Mr Danielli was the registered keeper of the car and had paid a deposit for it, the top of the range Jaguar was bought and paid for by his wife's family's businesses, run by her father, multi-millionaire property developer Seamus Jennings so she should be acquitted as it's legally impossible to cause criminal damage to your own belongings.

The last time the appeal sat, at the end of June, Mr Danielli denied ever buying or using listening devices, lambasting Mr Grant's questions as "ridiculous" and "purely for the media".

He later claimed he had used the plug in, voice-activated recording device to monitor his son's bedroom while the device designed to look like a USB stick was used to record university lectures.

The court also heard the retired rugby international twice tested positive for cocaine in November and December 2015.

While "traces of cocaine" were found in the system of Mr Danielli, he had alleged his estranged wife Olivia "looked liked she was on drugs" when she attacked his car in August 2015 but her urine samples and tests on a hair follicle proved negative.

In court on Friday forensic scientist with expertise in digital devices Tom Marriot, confirmed that in all bar one device, the CSB listening device, each item had its own memory card to allow the contents to be uploaded to a computer.

While four were audio devices, he said the pen had a "small lens" so could be used to record video footage as well which was then stored in an internal memory card.

Asked about the CSB device, Mr Marriot told Mr Grant it was a little smaller than a matchbox which the owner could either call to listen in or alternatively, when the device heard a noise, it would call a specified phone number "and will transmit the audio" from wherever it had been placed.

He told the lawyer that while a normal USB stick was between £5-20, the device Mr Danielli purchased was £129.

"From your professional expertise, is there any advantage of this particular item at £129 to record lectures over a simple dictaphone," asked the lawyer and Mr Marriot replied "I'm not aware of any advantages".

A second expert also gave evidence that he had examined audio recordings uncovered on a Mac book which belonged to Mr Danielli and found them to be "consistent" with the way audio recordings were stored on the various devices.

Previously described as "distinctly creepy" behaviour, the court has heard the defence team are in possession of 6,000 audio recordings uncovered on the laptop.

In his evidence digital forensic investigator Rory Donnelly said the format of the files were consistent with the way the devices stored recordings.

Under cross examination from prosecuting lawyer Laura Ievers, Mr Donnelly agreed that while the formats were consistent with each other, he could not say "that they had originated from the recording devices examined."

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