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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Carlisle restaurant owner attacked ex-worker after cocaine use claim

A restaurant owner attacked a former employee because he had falsely accused him online of using hard drugs, a court heard.

Barnaby Bowman photo
Barnaby Bowman

At Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, Barnaby Bowman, 41, who owns the Andalusian in Warwick Road, was given a fine, costs and compensation totaling £2,700.

Judge Peter Hughes QC told him he had allowed himself to indulge in “the law jungle” by resorting to violence.

At an earlier hearing, Bowman – who is internationally respected in the sport of carriage driving – pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault causing his victim David Park actual bodily harm.

Prosecutor Antony Longworth said the defendant said he had been deeply upset by comments posted on the social networking site Facebook by Mr Park, who he had previously employed as chef at his restaurant.

Bowman wanted the comments removing from the internet because he considered that they would damage his reputation.

On the evening of December 28, Bowman decided to confront Mr Park after seeing him in The Office bar on Botchergate, said Mr Longworth.

But he became emotional, lost his temper and punched Mr Park three times about the head, leaving him with a black eye, said the barrister.

Mr Longworth continued: “The account given by Mr Park is that he left [The Andalusian] on good terms, but the account of the defendant in his interview was that this was not entirely the position. Mr Bowman had concerns about his behaviour, particularly in drink.”

He said Bowman refused to let Mr Park be served in his restaurant, which upset him, prompting him to post messages about his former boss on Facebook – messages which he agreed were childish.

The court heard that the Facebook message included the words: “Really, Barnaby, you should stop snorting cocaine” and the exclamation: “What a silly, pathetic man.”

Bowman’s barrister Tim Evans said: “Words don’t hurt, it is said. They may not always hurt, but they hurt if you are a leading local businessman, with a significant professional reputation to maintain; and indeed when you are an international sportsman...

“For him to be described there as addicted to cocaine is damaging on every level – both to his sporting prowess and to his business and general reputation in the city, which is of the highest.”Mr Evans said Bowman had made a real contribution to the life of Carlisle, building up a thriving business and doing charitable work.

As he passed sentence, Judge Peter Hughes told Bowman: “You saw red that night, with some justification because of what had been posted on Facebook by Mr Park.

“But you are old and wise enough to know that it does not justify and it does not excuse going after the man and then assaulting him, punching him in the face and blackening his eye. That, simply, is the law of the jungle.”

The judge suggested that he would have imposed a harsher penalty had it not been for the provocation involved.

He fined Bowman £1,000, with £1,200 court costs, and ordered that he pay his victim £500 compensation.

After the case, Bowman’s legal team reiterated that he vehemently denies that he uses cocaine.

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