|Anthony & Tingting Barlow Evans|
Animosity between rival massage chair dealers at Earls Court Exhibition Centre's Ideal Home Show boiled over when one trader couple attacked a prospective investor on their competitor's stand -reigning down blows on the woman's head and face, a court heard.
Company boss Anthony Barlow Evans, 59, and his wife Tingting Barlow Evans, 33, who run Oakdale Furniture Ltd. were exhibiting at the marquee event where their staff complained about the behaviour of Sasaki International Ltd.
The Barlow Evans', of Willow Street, Ellesmere, Shropshire sell their Japanese-imported chairs and foot massagers all over the UK - attending 50 events a year - and are in direct competition with Milton Keynes-based Sasaki.
City of London Magistrates Court heard yesterday that Mr. Barlow Evans held Chinese businesswoman Yuling Chen's hair in one hand and was beating her with the other and his wife joined in the attack on March 20.
Moments earlier he had approached Sasaki's booth and told the firm's boss, Kelvin Chong: "Ask your dogs to f*** off my stand," the court was told.
Miss Chen, 35, was considering investing in Sasaki, but an eye-witness said she was on the receiving end of an attack launched by Mr. Barlow Evans after shouting: "You bitch. Get off our stand."
|Post-brawl: Yuling Chen|
"There were at least ten punches if not more, it was quite rapid, on her head and face.
"She had bruises on her face and on her arms. Scratches and rough marks."
Mr Barlow Evans, who denies attacking Miss Chen, told the court: "I had received reports from our massage chair stand that they were getting a degree of intimidation."
He said there was a "history" between the companies from 2010, accusing Sasaki staff as posing as prospective customers, "provoking" his employees and taking photographs of his customers so he decided to approach Mr. Choong.
"I wanted to stop the attacks, stop the verbal abuse that had been going on.
"I said: 'It's time to call the dogs off. We're here to do a job, to make money," explained Mr. Barlow Evans. "He was dismissive and went to point at my face so I knocked his hand away.
"He pushed me forcibly in the chest and I lost balance and fell backwards," added the defendant, denying he grabbed Mr. Choong's shirt collar and pushed him.
"Miss Chen grabbed me and I grabbed her right hand. I was amazed by her aggression," he said, claiming the woman ripped his cashmere jumper.
"Her other hand scratched my neck and arm and she tried to bite me.
"I've never been in trouble previously. I've never been in a fight in my life."
However, prosecutor Miss Catherine Picardo accused Mr. Barlow Evans of a joint attack. "You were both holding Miss Chen and hitting her. Your wife had one hand and you had the other and you were both hitting her."
The couple have each pleaded not guilty to one count of assaulting Miss Chen.