| 8.2°C Dublin

CCTV: Solicitor headbutts father of EastEnders actor - receives suspended sentence


A 69-year-old solicitor who headbutted the father of an EastEnders star in the High Court has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

Philip Saunders assaulted Mohammad Reza Ghadami after a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice, London, on April 7 2016 - leaving him with a fractured nose, Inner London Crown Court heard.

Mr Ghadami, whose son Davood plays Kush in the BBC soap, required treatment under general anaesthetic after the incident.

Saunders was found guilty by a jury of assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a trial on January 31, and was given an 18-month suspended sentence during the hearing on Friday afternoon.

CCTV of the clash played during the trial showed the property lawyer, of Vale Close, Maida Vale in north London, being stopped from passing by Mr Ghadami during an exchange inside the court.

He then swings his pilot case between Saunders' legs, prompting Saunders to lunge forwards and headbutt Mr Ghadami.

Sentencing, Recorder Steven Gasztowicz QC said Saunders had completely lost his self-control when he "quite deliberately headbutted him".

He said it was "clear from the CCTV footage that you could have left his presence without doing anything like that".

"The offence was committed in a High Court building where any litigant" should "feel safe, however annoying they may be and whatever is going on".

Mr Gasztowicz said a solicitor "is trusted to act properly in such buildings" even when there as a litigant.

However, he said the assault was on the spur of the moment and noted that it was an isolated incident.

Defending, David Nathan QC said there was "a very high degree of provocation" between the pair "against the background of tension" in relation to long-running civil proceedings at the High Court.

Mr Ghadami flung abuse at Saunders, calling him "a piece of s**t" and used "words to the effect" of "don't be so Jewish", Mr Nathan said.

He said the comments "effectively broke the camel's back", leading Saunders to headbutt Mr Ghadami in a "moment of madness".

Mr Nathan described Saunders as a "man of good character with no previous convictions" who had been a solicitor for more than 40 years.

Mr Gasztowicz said he had decided to suspend the sentence of 18 months as an "exceptional measure" for two years.

He ordered Saunders to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and issued an electronically monitored curfew of between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

Saunders was also made to pay the prosecution costs of £5,000 within 28 days and was given a restraining order banning him from contacting Mr Ghadami - unless through a solicitor - for five years.

Saunders will also face a disciplinary tribunal.

PA Media