|Free: Scott Hallsworth Leaving Court|
A chef-to-the-stars has been cleared of a racially-charged assault on a parking attendant after returning to find his BMW unwashed at Heathrow Airport.
Scott Hallsworth, 41, former head chef at Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Nobu had paid extra for his car to be valeted, but was arrested by police for allegedly hitting the staff member with his mobile phone.
He has personally cooked for David and Victoria Beckham, the late Michael Jackson and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and now owns high-end Japanese eatery Kurobuta, which has restaurants in Kings’ Road and Marble Arch.
Australian-born Hallsworth, of Pier House, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea was later refunded the valet charge by Purple Parking.
He always denied calling Ugandan-born Hitenkumar Arya, 52, “Muhammad” during the row and hitting the ‘handover captain’ inside the Terminal Three car park.
Recorder Paul Clements instructed the Isleworth Crown Court jury to find Hallsworth not guilty of religiously aggravated assault on July 11, last year.
The ruling came on day one of the trial after the jury heard an account of the incident from the point of view of the complainant.
“He was shouting and screaming quite loudly and that’s when everything kicked off,” Mr. Arya told the court.
“He was saying that his car had not been washed, he was just going crazy, louder and louder.”
Hallsworth licked his finger and wiped the bodywork of the black vehicle to demonstrate the level of dirt and Mr. Arya went to collect a complaint form.
|Conflicting Evidence: Hitenkumar Arya|
“He said: ‘Hey Muhammad, don’t walk away from me. Were are you going?’ He kept swearing, coming out with racial abuse, but I did not want to get into an argument like that.”
Hallsworth denies referring to Mr. Arya as the muslim prophet, claiming instead he called the parking attendant “F***head,” and must have been misheard due to his Aussie accent.
He accepts becoming annoyed at what he saw as Mr. Arya’s unhelpful “jobsworth” attitude and calling him “stupid boy” to belittle him.
Mr. Arya said he asked Hallsworth to stop shouting. “He said: ‘I’m not shouting at you, I’m yelling at you boy.’
“He then started pushing the desk and getting very aggressive. He was swearing about my mother for some reason, who she slept with, stuff like that.
“He said: ‘Go back to your own country’ and was convinced I was muslim. I’m hindu.
“He was pushing the desk all over the place and pointing very rigorously and his hands were coming quite close around my face.
“His phone hit my face. I don’t know if he was pointing or meant to punch me, but then he tried it again.
“I reached out to stop his hand, fearing he was going to do it again, throw a punch. His fist came and I stopped it.”
As a result the iPhone ended up in Mr. Arya’s hands, but Hallsworth says this occurred when the attendant snatched it to stop being pictured.
“He had the phone in his hand as he lashed out at me. It was loose in the cover and that’s how I got hold of the phone,” added Mr. Arya.
“He said: ‘If you don’t give me my phone back, I’ll keep your phones,’ and picked up two or three company phones and threw them on the floor.”
Hallsworth pushed the disability assist help button as Mr. Arya dialled 999 and the jury were played the emergency call, which recorded the defendant shouting in the background.
He could be heard ranting about “rip-off prices”, “covered in dust”, “stupid boy”, and sarcastically asking the witness: “Are you stupid? Did you go to school?”
Mr. Arya denied a defence suggestion he was out to “utterly milk” the incident, replying: “His actions were really bad. I had to look out for getting hit again.”
The court heard he quit his job as a result. “The fun part of the job finished. Every time someone came in that was not happy I thought: ‘Am I going to be attacked again?’
“He was like a furnace, going off on one.”
Two months after the incident Mr. Arya told police: “I feel personally invaded, both physically and racially,” claiming his confidence had been hit and he was unable to work alone.
However, Mr. Arya has now set-up his own private parking company, claiming he could not find employment anywhere else.
Recorder Clements granted a defence application of no case to answer, agreeing here was conflicting evidence and no proof an assault had occurred.