Thursday, 30 June 2016

Polo-Playing "Rich Man" Thumped Cabbie During Route Row

"Rich Man": Lo Gatto 
A polo-playing businessman returning home from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix gave a mini-cab driver a black eye while boasting about his riches.

Simon Rubel Lo Gatto, 44, the owner of a leading Italian luxury office furniture company based in St. James' had a dispute with the driver over the route he was taking.

Yesterday he was sentenced to a twelve-month community order, which includes 80 hours community service work, after being convicted of assaulting Nakalingam Koneswaran. 

Lo Gatto must also pay the cabbie £100 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £620 costs.

He had just been collected from Heathrow Airport on November 30, last year and was on his way to his £1.15m apartment in Arthur Road, Wimbledon Village.

However, during the journey he changed his mind and demanded to be taken to Brinkley's Garden, a restaurant in Hollywood Road, Little Chelsea to meet his girlfriend.

"He was sitting behind me and slapped my left arm," Sri Lankan cabbie Mr. Koneswaran told Ealing Magistrates Court.

"He said: 'I'm a rich man, do you know my family? We're a valuable family.'

Black Eye: Nakalingham Koneswaran
"As I turned around he punched my face, the left eye and I told him to get out, but he said: 'If you stop I'll punch you again.'

"I was scared that he would punch me again and when I dropped him off I said: 'Thank-you' and he said: 'F*** off.'

"This was very painful for me and swollen the next day, a black eye. This incident traumatised me and I am scared if someone shouts at me from behind."

Lo Gatto is the European MD of Interoffice, a sponsor of his polo team, and the company counts Rolls Royce, Microsoft, The FA, Mishcon De Reya and L'Oreal amongst its clients.

He is a member of Ham polo club, a partner and international ambassador for Dubai Fashion TV and Dubai's five-star Royal Ghantoot Marina and Resort.

Prosecutor Mr. Bhavin Patel told the court Lo Gatto disappeared into an airport bar and started drinking while Mr. Koneswaran looked after his suitcase.

The defendant claimed he had two lager shandies to settle his nerves despite flying out from Heathrow at least twenty times a year.

Guilty: Simon Lo Gatto 
"There was a disagreement as they neared Chiswick, with the defendant shouting they were in the wrong lane for the A4.

"Mr. Koneswaran told the defendant he was in the correct lane and Mr. Lo Gatto replied: 'You f***ing talking to me?'

"He then punched him in the left eye and said: 'I'm a mafia man. I can do whatever I want'."

The mini-cab driver told the magistrates: "He was treating me like a servant. I've never had anyone treating me like that.

"He walked like a proud man and he was ignoring me and demanding me to do things."

Mr. Koneswaran took two photographs of his black eye, which were shown to the court, and Lo Gatto was arrested at home on December 4.

There was a stand-off between the defendant and the officers, who arrived at 11pm, but Lo Gatto eventually answered the front-door and spent the night in cells

Lo Gatto denied drinking on the flight or being drunk and told the court: "He starts being a little rude and we began to argue loudly.

"I knew he was in the wrong lane and the word 'f***' was used by both sides."

He denied punching the driver or having a dismissive attitude: "If I am confident in myself and someone sees that as arrogance that's their interpretation."

Probation Officer Laura Braithwaite told the court: "He says he does not consume alcohol regularly and has no issues with it."

Lo Gatto's lawyer Mr. Mark Haslam said: "There was a dispute about the lane the taxi should be in.

"The defendant said the taxi driver was in the wrong lane and there followed a teated argument, a blazing row on this minor point that escalated.

"He's a hard-working, self-employed man. He does not accept the findings of the court and has lodged a notice of appeal."

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