Former singer guilty of assault after drunkenly ‘smacking’ police officer’s face

Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed under the stage name Tony Di Bart, ‘slapped’ Pc Jessica Howells after police were called to his home.

Former singer guilty of assault after drunkenly ‘smacking’ police officer’s face PA Media

A singer who topped the UK Singles Chart in the 90s has been found guilty of assault by beating an emergency worker after “slapping” a police officer to the face while drunk.

Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed under the stage name Tony Di Bart, hit Pc Jessica Howells on February 28 this year after police were called to his home and were trying to put handcuffs on him.

The 58-year-old, whose song The Real Thing topped the UK Singles Chart for a week in May 1994, had captor spray applied to his face during the arrest and told the court he was trying to “protect his face”.

Adam Khan, prosecuting, told Reading Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday: “On February 28 these officers attended the defendant’s home address after concerns about goings-on in the property.

“They were able to get access to that address via the defendant’s ex-partner providing them the key.

“Upon entry to the property it was apparent that the defendant was in a state of drunkenness – he immediately was very aggressive and took exception to the officers being in his house.

“Officers then tried to effect an arrest upon the defendant to which he began to struggle and wasn’t compliant.

“What is alleged to have happened by officer Jessica Howells is that she had her face grabbed and her face slapped more than once.”

Giving evidence, Pc Howells said officers knocked on the door multiple times and had conversations with the defendant from outside before going in the property.

“He appeared to be intoxicated, he wasn’t initially aggressive but he was walking towards us with his hand behind his back,” she added.

“I took hold of his arm which was in front of him, my colleague, I believe, took his other arm, he was arrested in relation to the offences.

“We tried to get the defendant’s arms behind his back – however, due to his size we were unable to do that.

“We were in a really tight area of the house, a little corridor, so I drew my captor spray.

“I felt a hand go around my face and pull my face. I felt like a smack and then a grab, I was trying to get his arm behind his back so I could get the handcuffs on him.”

Body-worn footage was shown to the court of the incident and Pc Howells can be heard saying “ow” which she said is when the defendant “smacked” her in the face.

The defendant could be heard in the footage saying: “What have you done? You’re in my house”, and: “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

James Partridge, defending, suggested the defendant was sprayed and he “immediately put his hands to his face”, to which Pc Howells replied: “No.”

He added that if there was any contact it was from when the defendant put his hands to his face.

Again, Pc Howells said: “No.”

During his police interview, the defendant “acknowledged his hand made contact with the officer’s face saying: ‘I touched something, yes, but there was no malice,’” the prosecution told the court.

Giving evidence, Di Bartolomeo said two of his siblings and his father died after a cancer diagnosis and in February he had just had a biopsy for lung cancer and was “in pieces”.

He said the officers “smashed his front door in” and that after the captor spray was applied he felt “instant burning” and he tried to “protect his face”.

Asked by his defence if he grabbed an officer by the face, he replied: “Absolutely no.”

Di Bartolomeo added: “I’ve never raised a hand against a woman in my life. There were hands all around me, holding me and everything else, once they did that (captor spray) my eyes stayed closed.

“There was no putting my hand out and grabbing her face, that didn’t happen.”

Di Bartolomeo, of St Marks Crescent, Maidenhead, was found guilty of assault by beating an emergency worker.

Chair of the bench, Jerry Cecile-Pritchard, said: “We’ve reached the conclusion that we do not find intent, we do consider your actions were foreseeable and therefore viewed as reckless, therefore we find you guilty as charged.”

Di Bartolomeo previously admitted offences of using threatening/abusive words/behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress and criminal damage.

Di Bartolomeo will be sentenced at the same court on August 1.

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