Northern Ireland

Simon Danielli's ex-wife fails to overturn conviction

Olivia Danielli Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption A judge labelled Olivia Danielli's actions as "petulant and foolish"

The estranged wife of a retired Ulster and Scotland rugby player, who was convicted of criminal damage a year ago, has had the conviction affirmed.

Olivia Danielli was fined last year after damaging Simon Danielli's car.

Newtownards Magistrate's Court was told the 30-year old knocked the wing mirror off with an umbrella handle and threw it onto the car bonnet.

Upholding the conviction on Friday, the judge labelled the incident a "petulant and foolish display".

He said the appeal had lead to "the public dissemination of intensely private details" of the couples' marriage and its break down.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Olivia Danielli was fined for damaging Simon Danielli's car in 2017

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

Describing how the evidence was "stretched to breaking point by allegations and counter allegations", he told the County 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, the judge 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 and effectively had "full and total possession of it", he had a proprietary interest in it when his wife attacked it in August 2015.

Originally convicted in April 2017, it was the Crown case that in an argument over a babysitting issue, Mrs Danielli hammered the wing mirror off and threw it across the bonnet of the car, causing around £1,800 of damage.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Mrs Danielli hammered the car's wing mirror off and threw it across the bonnet.

The defence contended, however, that while Mr Danielli, who retired from rugby 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.

However, he acquitted the ex-rugby star of assaulting Mrs Danielli during the same incident on 11 March, 2015.

Taking the witness box for the first day of his estranged wife's hearing last June, 37-year-old Mr Danielli alleged she struck him to the side of the head before leaving his property at The Coaches in Holywood, County Down.

'Frustration'

He said she then attacked his car parked outside - an attack which he recorded on his mobile phone.

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

Delivering his judgement on Friday, the judge said that, 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.

He said the ownership of the car was not an issue as there had been no demands for the money to be repaid "while the marriage was healthy".

Dismissing the appeal, he added: "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."

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