Eddie Irvine sentenced to six months for nightclub brawl
Northern Irish former F1 driver given jail time over scuffle with politician’s son
Northern Irishman Eddie Irvine received a six-month prison sentence for his part in a nightclub brawl in Milan in December 2008. Photograph: Michael Urban/Reuters
Was this a case of a text message too far? Former Formula One driver, Northern Irishman Eddie Irvine, was this morning handed a six-month prison sentence for his part in a nightclub brawl in Milan in December 2008.
Also sentenced by judge Marco Formentin was the other protagonist in the brawl, namely Gabriele Moratti, son of former Milan mayor and education minister, Letizia Moratti.
Given that today’s sentences will almost certainly be appealed, legal experts are already predicting the case will fall foul of the statute of limitations, due to expire at the end of 2015, when the case is declared null and void.
For that reason, it seems highly unlikely that either man will actually serve time. Mr Moratti was present in court this morning for the sentence, whilst Mr Irvine was not.
Witnesses in court have claimed the reason for the fight between the two was a text message sent by Mr Irvine to an ex-girlfriend of Mr Moratti.
When Mr Moratti came across Mr Irvine in the “Holywood” nightclub, a brief scuffle developed between them. Mr Irvine claimed he was hit from behind by Mr Moratti and that he suffered damage to an ear. After the incident, both men subsequently sued one another for “assault and battery”.
Corriere Della Sera Online also reported today that after the incident, Mr Irvine received threatening phone calls in his Milan hotel from someone in the Moratti entourage.
Other media sources carried reports today claiming Mr Irvine’s legal team had tried, in vain, to reach some form of out-of-court agreement in order to halt the proceedings.
As it is, whatever happens to both Mr Irvine and Mr Moratti, the case does not end here, since Judge Formentin has passed on the case records to the public prosecutor’s office. It is believed the judge will ask prosecutors to look into the possibility that some of the witnesses called by the Moratti defence team committed perjury.
Gabriele Moratti is not new to controversy. In April of last year, he paid a €49,000 fine for an illegal renovation of a warehouse in the Milanese suburbs, a building that he had converted into a luxury “Batman Residence”.
Eddie Irvine was a Formula One driver from 1993 to 2001, driving for the Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar teams. His best season was probably that of 1999 when he finished second behind a Finn, Mika Hakkinen, in the drivers’ championship, having started the last Grand Prix of that season four points ahead of his rival.