Lawyer fined for punching lingerie designer in seat row at Royal Opera House

Matthew Feargrieve (L) hit Ulrich Engler in a row over seats (Picture: SWNS)
Matthew Feargrieve (left) hit Ulrich Engler in a row over seats. (SWNS)

A lawyer has been fined after punching a lingerie designer in a row over a front-row seat at the Royal Opera House in London.

Matthew Feargrieve, 43, hit Ulrich Engler after losing his temper when the victim sat next to his partner Catherine Chandler, in Row A, just before the third act of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Mr Engler, who was originally sitting in Row B, irritated Feargrieve when he moved Ms Chandler’s coat, the court heard.

This led to a scuffle and Mr Engler was hit in the shoulder.

Prosecutor Jennifer Fakada argued at Westminster Magistrates’ Court that Feargrieve was guilty of aggravating factors as the victim suffered an injury that took six weeks to heal.

"The Paul Hamlyn Hall is a large iron and glass structure adjacent to, and with direct access to the main opera house building. Historically it formed part of the old Covent Garden flower market, and is still commonly known as the 'floral hall', but it was absorbed into the Royal Opera House complex during the 90s redevelopment. The hall now acts as the atrium and main public area of the opera house, with a champagne bar, restaurant and other hospitality services, and also providing access to the main auditorium at all levels."
The incident happened at the Royal Opera House in London. (Getty)

Ms Fakada read out Mr Engler’s victim impact statement, which said: “I had numerous blows to my upper body which caused bruising and sustained pain.

He added: “I’m still self-conscious while in public and unsure when speaking to strangers.

“I’m not the easy-going person I once was. This has totally changed my positive happy behaviour.”

Mr Engler’s friend told the court she had paid £2,000 to be there, adding: "People don't behave like that at the local cinema, never mind the local opera house."

Matthew Feargrieve was fined for the attack (Picture: SWNS)
Matthew Feargrieve was fined for the attack. (SWNS)

Lisa Wilding QC, defending Feargrieve, claimed he reacted aggressively as a result of defending his partner.

She said: “There are multiple witnesses that say it have been as little as one blow.

"It was clear from an independent witness that when the complainant moved into the vacant seat, which upset Ms Chandler, there was a tussle between her and Mr Engler.

“One witness said that Mr Engler appeared to hit her or was sort of rough with her. It was her impression she put in her sworn evidence the man was probably defending his wife.

“It may have been as little as one blow.”

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She said the impact of the coverage of proceedings and damage to Feargrieve’s reputation has been “devastating”.

Ms Wilding said: “Since March of last year, he has not been in employment. His work generally is sporadic.

Sentencing Feargrieve, Deputy District Judge John Zani said: “You lost your temper, whatever was happening between Miss Chandler and Mr Engler, you decided you were not going to sit idly by and behaved in a way I have found which you assaulted him in circumstances which you should have not...

“You’re a professional man – you should know how to behave.”

Mr Zani fined Feargrieve £900, costs of £775, compensation of £500 to the victim and a victim surcharge of £90. The combined total of £2,355 must be paid within 14 days.

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