A multi-millionaire banker has won a £58,000 payout after claiming a CCTV installer arranged a burglary at his villa.
Ivan Ritossa and his lawyer wife Marina accused Bruce Pearce of plotting the raid on their French Riveria home ‘as an act of spite’ after feeling ‘shafted’ over an unpaid £8,000 bill.
They claimed the Kent-based businessman either organised or carried out the break-in himself, having developed an ‘irrational animosity’ towards Mrs Ritossa after clashes over the invoice.
Pearce, the owner of Elegant Integration, denied the ‘outlandish and speculative’ allegation and counter-sued the couple for final payment of his £7,820.16 fee.
The security system at the Australian ex-Barclays trader’s home was remotely accessed and only ‘items installed by Pearce’ were taken in the 2019 raid, Central London County Court heard.
The couple’s lawyer, James Wibberley, told the court that there was a break-in over the weekend of November 30, 2019 during which ‘a security system and other items supplied and/or installed by the defendants were damaged and/or stolen.’
Rowan Pennington-Benton, representing Pearce, said there was no direct evidence to suggest he was behind the raid.
‘Mr Pearce vehemently and wholeheartedly denies this and views this claim as an unmeritorious, intimidatory tactic by wealthy property owners who have wrongly formed the view that he has broken into their property,’ he said.
‘It is incredible and implausible that Mr Pearce engineered a complicated intrusion and burglary in a foreign country over an unpaid invoice’.
But Judge David Saunders ruled that on the balance of probabilities, Pearce was behind the burglary at the huge Cote d’Azur property.
He suggested the break-in was ‘carried out by someone upset with the Ritossas rather than being a straightforward burglary’.
Judge Saunders ordered the tradesman to pay the Ritossas £58,592.43 in damages, plus £145,000 legal costs.
The property in the Cote d’Azur boasts extensive grounds, a pool, a main house and separate cottage, where the family are looked after by three members of staff when they visit, Mrs Ritossa told the court.
The couple already own a £10 million mansion in Chelsea.
Mr Ritossa came to prominence as one of the world’s top bankers and has been credited with modernising Barclays’ foreign exchange arm.
Judge Saunders also awarded Pearce £3,002.39 for the unpaid invoice.
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