Charity fundraiser 'Tony The Fridge' convicted of assaulting former employee
A charity fundraiser famed for running with a fridge on his back has been convicted of assaulting a former employee.
Tony Morrison, better known as "Tony The Fridge", had denied attacking Andrew Mallaby at his home in Sunderland after he went round to retrieve company property.
Sunderland Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Morrison had arrived in a state of heightened emotion as he believed he had caught Mr Mallaby selling the "crown jewels" of his business to a competitor.
But after being let into the house an altercation took place where he slapped Mr Mallaby and bit him on the arm as they grappled on the stairs.
Morrison was also convicted of assaulting Mr Mallaby's father George by punching him, as the family tried to eject him from their house.
The 51-year-old, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, became famous for running with a 94lb (42.5kg) fridge on his back and was named fundraiser of the year at the Pride of Britain Awards 2014.
His motto has been "be relentless", and he has covered more than 1,000 miles with a fridge strapped to his back, raising more than £100,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Judge Roger Elsey said Andrew Mallaby's sister Lauren Mallaby, who had initially let him into the house, rang the police after shouting at him to leave.
He was eventually bundled out, where two colleagues broke up the melee and they left.
During the struggle Morrison told the court his trousers split open, leaving him exposed as he had no underwear on.
"The sirens of the police officers could be heard but he did not wait for their arrival," said Judge Elsey.
"If he thought he was an innocent man who had been assaulted he would have waited for the police."
Morrison said he had nurtured Mr Mallaby for many years and loved him like a son and felt betrayed by his actions.
Two other charges of assault, one against Lauren Mallaby and one against mother Jean Mallaby, and a charge of using violence to secure entry were dismissed.
Judge Elsey said he would pass sentence later this afternoon but would balance "the contribution he has made to charity".
The court heard Mr Mallaby had been part of the team that ran Morrison's own business after he stepped down as managing director to focus on his charity work.
He had run the website and had in his possession a laptop that contained information about clients as well as video that Morrison said was going towards a film about him.
The runner said he was worried that if he did not get the computer back all that information would be lost forever.
During the proceedings Judge Elsey repeatedly had to ask Morrison to calm down and focus on answering the questions as he became increasingly irate when discussing what had happened to him.
Court officials confirmed Morrison was handed a 12-month community sentence and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also told to pay £200 compensation and £400 in costs.