Updated The owner of a firm involved in sending speculative invoices to suspected downloaders is in trouble of his own after being convicted of a brutal assault on an Uber driver outside an exclusive London members-only club.
Robert Croucher, MD of consultancy Hatton & Berkeley, wept in the dock after being found guilty of pushing Uber driver Mohammad Hussein to the ground and kicking him repeatedly in the body and head. He was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison by Hammersmith Magistrates' Court and ordered to pay £620 costs, a £115 victim surcharge and £500 in compensation.
"This will destroy my life, I am the director of a company and everyone would lose their jobs. We have 1,000 clients, we have staff all around the country, and it would die," he protested before being sentenced, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Hatton & Berkeley was involved in an infamous copyright case earlier this year when it teamed up with TCYK LLC, a US firm chasing people who illegally downloaded the Robert Redford film The Company You Keep.
Hatton & Berkeley sent out hundreds of letters to UK internet users demanding £600 to avoid prosecution, including one to an 83-year-old grandmother, which led her MP to complain to the UK's Business Secretary.
The court heard that Croucher and his partner Brigitte Kudor (she's also the firm's operations manager) had been enjoying a night out on the town in London's Chelsea district. They attempted to get an Uber ride home, and Croucher became angry when the driver refused to take them.
"I refused because I got scared because the gentleman suddenly got angry, something happened between them and he harshly slammed the door," Hussein told the court. "I got out to open the door and then the gentleman took the keys from through the window. He slapped me. I was begging for my keys and he suddenly pushed me on the pavement."
Croucher then began kicking Hussein in the body and head. Kristoff Kwiecien, a doorman at Raffles, rushed in to intervene and in turn received abuse from Croucher.
"Mr Croucher put him on the floor and kicked him in the head. It was three to five times. The first kick was loud, like a clap," Kwiecien testified. "He was very rude. He said he had built four flats in Mayfair, and I could lose my job tomorrow."
Croucher admitted assault but denied that he had kicked Hussain in the body and head. The magistrate Sandra Blandford disagreed, saying CCTV footage and witness statements showed this was not the case and that a custodial sentence was required.
"Your behavior was unacceptable, we find that you did kick Mr Hussein a number of times while he was on the floor, and one of those kicks was to the head," she said. "Get used to life being different." ®
Updated to add
Since the publication of this article Raffles has been in contact with The Reg with some interesting details about the incident. We reproduce its statement in full:
The club wishes to issue a statement to clarify that Mr Croucher was refused entry to the club on the evening in question; Mr Croucher is not a member of the club, nor was he being accompanied by a member. Furthermore Mr Croucher was heavily intoxicated when he approached the club and became aggressive and abusive towards our staff upon refusal.
The club takes the upholding of the key licensing objectives very seriously and would like to praise the members of our security staff involved for their swift and decisive action. Their actions prevented what could have amounted to a far more serious injury to a member of the public just trying to do his job and facilitated Mr Croucher's arrest and subsequent conviction.
Technology also played a key role as the body cameras worn and operated by our security staff incorporate audio recording, which, coupled with our CCTV, provided the club with necessary means to assist the police in full and to a satisfactory end.