Belfast Telegraph

Simon Danielli's wife has conviction confirmed for her 'petulant' attack on his £38,000 car

By Paul Higgins

The estranged wife of retired rugby star Simon Danielli has failed in her appeal against a criminal damage conviction.

Olivia Danielli had her conviction affirmed yesterday after a judge labelled the incident a "petulant and foolish display".

Upholding the conviction of criminal damage against Ms Danielli (30) at the County Court, Judge Brian Sherrard said the appeal, which sat on seven separate days, had led to "the public dissemination of intensely private details" of the couple's marriage and its breakdown.

"That can hardly be in the long term interests of Mr or Mrs Danielli nor, more importantly, their young children," said the judge.

Describing how the evidence was "stretched to breaking point by allegations and counter allegations", he told the court, sitting in Antrim, that although he had heard evidence of "covert recordings, drug use and infidelity ... I have found little or no value in that evidence".

Instead, Judge Sherrard said, it was clear to him that as Mr Danielli had paid a deposit for the Jaguar XF, insured it, had all sets of keys to it and effectively had "full and total possession of it", the ex-Scotland winger had a propriety interest in the car when his wife attacked it in August 2015.

Originally convicted in April last year, it was the Crown case that in an argument over a babysitting issue, Mrs Danielli hammered off the wing mirror with an umbrella and threw it across the bonnet of the car, causing around £1,800 of damage.

However, the defence contended that while Mr 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.

Her father Seamus Jennings is a multi-millionaire property developer who regularly features in Irish rich lists and in 2012, was said to be worth an estimated £26m.

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 the ex-rugby star of assaulting Mrs Danielli arising from the same incident on March 11, 2015. Taking the witness box for the first day of his estranged wife's hearing last June, 37-year-old Mr Danielli alleged she had struck him on the side of the head before leaving his property at The Coaches, also in Holywood and attacking his car parked outside, an attack which he recorded on his mobile phone.

As part of the evidence the court heard that while the retired winger claimed his wife "looked like she was on drugs" at the time of the incident, she provided urine and hair samples which when tested proved negative for drugs.

After Social Services became involved with the family, Mr Danielli was also tested in November and December 2015 and "traces of cocaine" were uncovered in his samples, revelations which he claimed were "for the media".

Giving evidence on her own behalf, Mrs Danielli accepted she made a "deliberate decision" to damage the car with the steel umbrella, but said that when she hammered off the wing mirror: "I was taking my frustration out on my own car."

But delivering his judgment yesterday, Judge Sherrard said: "It's quite clear that the applicant's intention was to damage the vehicle and damage it she did."

Judge Sherrard said while there was no documentation concerning the money used to buy the Jaguar, Mr Danielli had paid a deposit, had been given a significant discount as an Ulster Rugby professional and the rest had come from his wife.

Equally, the ownership of the car was not an issue and there had been no demands for the money to be repaid "while at least the marriage was healthy".

Judge Sherrard told the court the evidence "contributes to my conclusion that she knew well that Mr Danielli had a substantial proprietary interest in the vehicle."

"I find as a matter of fact that the applicant was aware of Mr Danielli's proprietary interest in the car and she was also aware of his custody and control of the car and she did not honestly believe it to be her exclusive property, so accordingly the appeal is dismissed," declared the judge.

Turning to the matter of sentencing, Judge Sherrard affirmed the fine and compensation order, commenting that he felt District Judge Hamill "appears to have pitched this matter entirely correctly".

Belfast Telegraph

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