The heir to the world-famous Gilbey gin empire has been convicted of assaulting his 95 year-old mother by “violently” lifting her up and throwing her heavily to the floor.
Sir Walter Gavin Gilbey, 68, inflicted a large amount of bruising to Lady Elizabeth Gilbey when visiting her countryside home.
He pleaded not guilty to the assault at the £950,000 property, Little Paddock, Bury, Pulborough on August 26, last year, but was convicted after a two-day trial.
He also snapped her walking cane into several pieces during the row, which he claimed was about her continuing to drive with poor eyesight.
Sir Walter, of Torwood, Stafford Road, Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands gave police a prepared statement when quizzed, claiming: “She was in the process of assaulting me.”
However Horsham Magistrates dismissed his account and fined him £339, with £625 costs and ordered him to pay £200 compensation to his mother as well as a £33 victim surcharge.
He was also made subject to a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting Lady Gilbey for the next month and following that period only in the presence of her housekeeper or carer.
As well as the driving dispute Sir Walter - known as Gavin to friends - claimed the fabricated assault account was encouraged by his sister Lady Camilla Frederick, 64, in her quest to control their mother’s estate.
The magistrates rejected his evidence as “not truthful,” describing Sir Walter as evasive in the witness box and not calm during the incident.
Bench chairwoman Lesley Overington said: “In a moment of anger and frustration he intentionally assaulted Lady Elizabeth by grabbing her arms, pulling her out of the chair and he flung her to the floor face forward.
“Sir Gavin’s evidence was considered and not truthful. His answers to cross-examination were often evasive and off-point.
“After the incident and during his 999 call to the police he was advised to redial 999 for an ambulance, or phone 111.
“He did neither, despite his mother having gone to the neighbour’s house, where she was screaming, shouting and making accusations.
“We don’t accept he was calm during the incident. We find he did break the walking stick as described by Lady Elizabeth.
“As magistrates we have found this to be a very sad case to hear. Having assessed all the evidence we find Sir Gavin Gilbey guilty of assault by beating.
“We heard live evidence from Lady Elizabeth, whom we found to be credible on the issue of whether her son assaulted her. She was very clear about the details of the assault.”
At the start of the trial prosecutor Miss Amanda Burrows told the court: “This is concerning the assault of 95 year-old Lady Elizabeth Gilbey. The defendant is her son, Sir Gavin Gilbey, who is 68 years-old.
“Essentially on the twenty-sixth of August, last year Lady Gilbey was at her home address. The defendant had been staying with her some days and her housekeeper was away and there was nobody else in the house.
“Lady Gilbey says the defendant came into the room where she was watching television and they started arguing and she says her son came towards her in a threatening manner.
“She placed her walking cane in front of her and he snatched it and broke it into several pieces.
“He grabbed her violently from her chair and she fell to the ground so hard her hearing aid fell from her ear.”
Lady Gilbey went looking for her neighbour Mike, who spoke to Sir Walter and the police were not called.
She contacted police on September 1 and the investigation began.
“There are photographs of Lady Gilbey’s chest, which the Crown say are consistent with what she said and they were taken by her daughter Camilla Frederick.
“Lady Gilbey suffered significant bruising to the left side of her chest, the breast area.”
She saw her GP Dr. Timothy Fooks on September 5. “He observed an area of large bruising on Lady Gilbey’s chest and took an assessment of her mental capability and reaches conclusions about that.”
Sir Walter’s lawyer Mr. John Blandford told the court Lady Gilbey invented the allegation in revenge for her son hiding her car keys to prevent her driving.
“Lady Gilbey was driving on a regular basis even though she has glaucoma, which she should have informed DVLA about.
“The defendant was very concerned she was driving and causing a risk to other road users and on two occasions took her car keys away.
“This led to rows and threats and that is the reason for the false allegation.”
Miss Burrows told the court Sir Walter refused to answer police questions after giving his statement. “He failed to account for how the cane was broken.”
Sir Walter told officers: “I deny assaulting my mother in any way whatsoever. I have not acted in any way that is considered threatening or intimidating.
“I did not cause any injury or bruising to my mother.”
Lady Gilbey, who has a history of falls, saw her GP with her daughter. “I was told ten days prior to her attending she had been in an altercations with her son at her home,” said the doctor.
“During that event she told me she was pulled forward in such a way that she fell on to her chest an that’s how the bruise was caused.
“I observed quite a large bruise on her breast. The injury I was shown was a significant bruise in keeping with what I had been told and I stand by that.”
Sir Walter is the 4th Baronet of The Gilbey Baronetcy and the title’s seat is Elsenham Hall, Essex.
The title was created on September 4, 1893 for the wine merchant, stock-breeder, agriculturalist and philanthropist Walter Gilbey.
He was chairman and co-founder of W & A Gilbey, established in 1857, a wine merchants and distillers most famous for London dry gin.
The brand is now owned by industry giants Diageo.
Twice-divorced Sir Walter is known by his middle name Gavin and the Eton-educated businessman was a director of Giblet’s International Inc between 1986 and 1992.
He succeeded as fourth Baronet on October 29, 1991.