Royal Opera House front row punch: Solicitor fined

Royal Opera House front row punch: Solicitor fined

Matthew Feargrieve

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PA Media

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Matthew Feargrieve lashed out against Mr Engler with “a constant flow of blows” after the designer climbed into an empty seat

A solicitor has been ordered to pay £500 to a fashion designer he punched during a row over a seat at an opera.

Matthew Feargrieve, 43, was found guilty in December of assaulting Ulrich Engler during a performance of Wagner at the Royal Opera House on 7 October, 2018.

Mr Feagrieve hit Mr Engler after he climbed into an empty seat next to his partner Catherine Chandler.

Judge John Zani said the defendant used “excessive force” during the attack.

“You really should not have behaved in the way you did. In my view you lost your temper. It was excessive,” he said during sentencing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Engler told City of London Magistrates’ Court at a previous hearing that he had moved into an empty chair in row A from his seat in row B at the London venue three days earlier without incident, and did so again on 7 October.

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PA Media

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Mr Engler said said the assault had affected his creative abilities as a designer

The designer, whose clients include the Countess of Derby, said he asked Ms Chandler if he could sit in the vacant seat next to her and if she had purchased it.

When she replied no to both questions, he moved into the seat, moving Ms Chandler’s coat and putting it on her lap.

Feargrieve then “lashed out” and punched Mr Engler at least once, the court heard.

Mr Engler, told the court he was attacked at least 10 minutes into the performance and left with injuries to his left side.

He claimed he was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and said the assault had affected his creative abilities as a designer.

Giving evidence, Feargrieve claimed he only pushed Mr Engler in self-defence after he attacked Ms Chandler, his partner of 13 years.

But Judge Zani did not accept Feargrieve’s argument of self-defence and after a one-day trial, the lawyer was found guilty of common assault.

Feargrieve, of Barnes, south-west London, was fined £900, ordered to pay £775 in costs, £500 in compensation and a £90 victim surcharge.

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