UK

Nineties singer given community order for smacking female police officer’s face

Singer Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed as Tony Di Bart, has been given a community order after smacking a female police officer’s face while drunk (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Singer Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed as Tony Di Bart, has been given a community order after smacking a female police officer’s face while drunk (Andrew Matthews/PA) Singer Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed as Tony Di Bart, has been given a community order after smacking a female police officer’s face while drunk (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A singer who had a number one hit in the 1990s has been given a community order after smacking a female police officer’s face while drunk.

Antonio Di Bartolomeo, who performed as Tony Di Bart, hit Pc Jessica Howells on February 28 this year after police were called to his home and tried to put handcuffs on him.

The 58-year-old, whose song The Real Thing topped the UK Singles Chart for a week in May 1994, was pepper-sprayed during the arrest and claimed he was trying protect his face.

Di Bartolomeo, of St Marks Crescent in Maidenhead, Berkshire, was found guilty of reckless assault by beating an emergency worker on June 27, having previously admitted the homophobic and racist abuse of two other officers in separate incidents, as well as criminal damage.

Alcohol was “the theme which runs alongside all of the four offences”, district judge Samuel Goozee told Di Bartolomeo while sentencing him at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He said the offence of assault meant that a 12-month community order, during which the singer must carry out 20 days of rehabilitation activities, was the appropriate sentence.

Di Bartolomeo was also made to pay a total of £200 in compensation as well as £700 in legal fees.

Tony Di Bart court case
Tony Di Bart court case Singer Antonio Di Bartolomeo hit Pc Jessica Howells in February after police were called to his Berkshire home and tried to arrest him (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Police attended the defendant’s address after he sent a video to his partner of him damaging her furniture, and were able to enter because she gave them a key, the court heard.

The singer was drunk and acted aggressively towards the officers by struggling as they tried to arrest him, the court had heard.

Giving evidence in June, Pc Howells said officers knocked on the door multiple times and spoke with the defendant from outside before entering the house.

She said: “He appeared to be intoxicated. He wasn’t initially aggressive but he was walking towards us with his hand behind his back.

“I took hold of his arm, which was in front of him; my colleague, I believe, took his other arm. He was arrested in relation to the offences.

“We tried to get the defendant’s arms behind his back – however, due to his size we were unable to do that.

“We were in a really tight area of the house, a little corridor, so I drew my captor spray.

“I felt a hand go around my face and pull my face. I felt like a smack and then a grab… I was trying to get his arm behind his back so I could get the handcuffs on him.”

In body-worn video footage Pc Howells can be heard saying “Ow”, which she said was when the defendant “smacked” her in the face.

Giving evidence previously, Di Bartolomeo said two of his siblings and his father died after a cancer diagnosis and in February he had just had a biopsy for lung cancer and was “in pieces”.

He said the officers “smashed his front door in” and that, after the captor spray was deployed, he felt “instant burning” and tried to “protect his face”.

His actions amounted to recklessness rather than having intent, meaning he was still found guilty.

In two separate incidents in March this year, Di Bartolomeo called a female police officer a “Paki cop” and a male officer a “gay boy” while under the influence.

The court heard he is of good previous character and is no longer drinking alcohol.