Belfast Telegraph

Rugby star’s Simon Danielli's wife in Jaguar damage appeal

Ex-model bids to overturn her conviction for whacking car with umbrella

By Paul Higgins

The estranged wife of retired Ulster Rugby star Simon Danielli has denied that "the red mist descended" when she attacked a Jaguar car each claim as their own.

Giving evidence at her County Court appeal in Newtownards yesterday, Olivia Danielli (30) accepted she made a "deliberate decision" to damage the Jaguar XF with a steel umbrella in August 2015, but added: "I was taking my frustration out on my own car."

Ms Danielli, a former model and mother-of-three from the Marino Station Road in Holywood, is appealing her conviction and sentence for causing criminal damage to the car.

It is the Crown case that Ms Danielli hammered the wing mirror off with the umbrella and threw it across the bonnet of the car, causing around £1,800 of damage, after an argument.

It is the defence case, however, that while Simon Danielli - a winger for Ulster and Scotland before he retired in 2012 - had daily use of the £38,000 car and was the registered keeper, it was in fact owned by his wife as she had used her money from the family business to buy it.

Last April, a magistrate fined her £500 and ordered her to pay the £1,800 cost of repairing the damage.

A month earlier the same judge convicted Mr Danielli of assaulting Michael Brown, a man he alleged was having an affair with his wife, and fined him £500, but acquitted him of assaulting Mrs Danielli in the same incident on March 11, 2015.

Yesterday Mrs Danielli told defence QC Eugene Grant she was "concerned and upset" when her son told her a lady he didn't know had been looking after her three children when they were at their father's house that weekend in August.

As a non-molestation order was in place barring Mr Danielli from contacting his estranged wife, arrangements for child access were done through Mrs Danielli's mother, so putting her phone on loudspeaker she called Mr Danielli to ascertain the identity of the babysitter.

"I asked him who the babysitter was and could he give me her name, but he said it was none of my business who was looking after the kids," claimed Mrs Danielli, adding that after he said a "few other unpleasant things", her husband hung up.

Having discussed what happened with her mother, Mrs Danielli said she drove to her husband's house at The Coaches, also in Holywood, to see if he would talk to her face to face.

There, Mrs Danielli agreed she got "upset because he wasn't co-operating with me", but she outlined how the conversation "didn't go well" after Michael Brown, whom her husband had previously assaulted, rang her.

"He asked me to leave the house and he opened the door and pushed me out and shut the door on me," claimed Mrs Danielli, telling the court that she felt "angry and upset" as she sat in her Porsche Cayenne parked at the end of the driveway where the Jaguar was.

"Did you decide to do something?" asked the lawyer. She confirmed she took her umbrella and "went to the Jaguar and I hit the wing mirror".

She claimed that as far as she was concerned, she owned it, as "I paid for it through the money that I have in my dad's business".

Under cross-examination from prosecuting lawyer Laura Ievers, Mrs Danielli denied that "the red mist descended" after the argument, so she decided to attack the Jaguar.

"No, it actually wasn't as bad as you suggest," she said. "We exchanged a few unpleasant things to each other but there was never raised voices nor shouting at each other."

It was suggested to Mrs Danielli that in attacking the car, she was "getting your own back" on her estranged husband. She denied that, saying she had been "taking out my frustration on my own car".

The last witness was Mrs Danielli's mother, Jane Jennings, who maintained that in the eyes of the entire family "it was Olivia's car because she bought it".

In relation to the day of the incident, Mrs Jennings said if she thought her daughter had been in such a state of upset, "I wouldn't have let her go".

The evidence in the case has now finished and Judge Brian Sherrard has asked both the prosecution and defence to lodge written submissions on the legal issue of "property belonging to another", which he described as "the nub of the case".

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