Northern Ireland

Former Ulster and Scotland rugby star Simon Danielli fined £500 for assault

Olivia and Simon Danielli Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Charges that Simon Danielli assaulted his estranged wife Olivia were dismissed by the judge

A former Ulster and Scotland international rugby player has been convicted of assault.

Simon Danielli, 37, was fined £500 at Newtownards Magistrates Court.

The judge said he was satisfied that Mr Danielli had struck Michael Browne - whom the ex-player suspected of having an affair with his wife - in the face.

Further charges that he assaulted his estranged wife Olivia and damaged her phone were dismissed by the judge.

Defence suggestions that Mr Browne suffered a black eye in a fall were "fanciful", the judge said.

Mr Danielli, from the Coaches in Holywood, County Down, was convicted after an incident on 11 March 2015.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Ulster's Rory Best gave character evidence in support of his former teammate Simon Danielli

Ireland captain Rory Best gave character evidence, saying his former Ulster teammate was a man of "honesty and integrity" and had not shown aggression on or off the rugby field.

Olivia Danielli, from Marino Station Road in Holywood, is facing charges in the same court of causing criminal damage to her former husband's £38,000 Jaguar car in August 2015.

In court, the judge said it was clear the former couple were "at daggers, they're at loggerheads".

Several months ago, the judge asked the couple's defence teams to discuss binding-over orders, promising good behaviour as opposed to "washing their dirty linen in public."

In a four-day hearing, the court heard allegations of illicit extra-marital affairs, covert bugging devices placed in the marital home and a GPS tracking device being hidden in Mr Danielli's car.

The court also heard that his father-in-law, Shamus Jennings, pleaded with him to work at the marriage and then allegedly threatened to "destroy him" when it broke down irrevocably.

Mr Danielli retired from rugby with a back injury in 2012, after 32 appearances for Scotland and 78 for Ulster.