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Actress avoids jail after assaulting fish and chip restaurant boss

Actress, 57, avoids jail after assaulting fish and chip restaurant boss as she called him ‘a dirty Bangladeshi man’ and yelled ‘You don’t belong here, this is my country, I can do what I like’

  • Sophie Gatacre, 57, assaulted restaurant manager Hamza Ahmed on May 29
  • She returned on July 2 and assaulted the restaurant owner Timothy Haigh
  • Both assaults took place at The Chipping Forecast restaurant, in Notting Hill
  • She pleaded guilty but then claimed former solicitor had forced her to do so 
  • Gatacre was conditionally discharged for the two assaults, and fined £400 

An actress who assaulted the manager of an upmarket fish and chip restaurant and returned two months later to attack the owner has avoided a jail term.

Sophie Gatacre, 57, who has performed at the Edinburgh fringe festival, called Hamza Ahmed ‘a dirty Bangladeshi man’ before slapping his face at The Chipping Forecast, in Notting Hill.

Weeks later she returned to the restaurant and assaulted the owner Timothy Haigh and swore at him in the street.

Gatacre, who has toured with her comedy play, Samantha’s Hotline, as well as appearing in TV and film roles, was conditionally discharged for two years for the two assaults, fined £400 and ordered to pay her victims compensation.

Sophie Gatacre (pictured for her comedy play Samantha’s Hotline) assaulted the manager of an upmarket fish and chip restaurant and returned two months later to attack the owner

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the first assault, on Mr Ahmed, happened on May 29. 

As Mr Ahmed tried to set up tables and chairs outside, Gatacre blocked his way at the shop door and launched ‘a plethora of abuse’ at him, the court was told.

She then slapped his face and punched him in the chest but ran out of the eatery, screaming that Mr Ahmed had attacked her.    

Jonathan Bryan, prosecuting, said Gatacre called Mr Ahmed a dirty Bangladeshi man’ during the incident.

He said Gatacre was ‘screaming at the top of her lungs’ as she said: ‘You don’t belong here, this is my country. I can do what I like.’

Gatacre claimed she only mentioned Bangladesh because Joan Baez ‘sings a wonderful song called Bangladesh’.

In a statement, Mr Ahmed described the abuse as ‘very unpleasant’ as he had been racially abused in the past.

‘I wake up in the morning not knowing whether I will be abused,’ he said.

‘Business is hard enough as it is due to Covid without her harassing customers.’

The court was told Gatacre returned to The Chipping Forecast, which has since closed permanently, at about 11am on July 2, 2021, where she assaulted Mr Haigh.  

She slapped his hand, and hit him on the arm after swearing and shouting in the street, the court was told.

Gatacre then rode past the eatery on her bike on July 24 and shouted ‘there’s the f****** fish man’ at Mr Haigh.

She parked up and shouted ‘f****** fish man’ and ‘bastard’ repeatedly, the court heard.

‘I asked her several times to please leave me alone,’ said Mr Haigh, who claimed she was shouting very close to his face.

He said he pushed past her but she lurched at him, hitting his back with her arm.

Gatacre, who has toured London, Edinburgh and New York since 2009, represented herself after falling out with her lawyer, the court heard.

She had earlier admitted two counts of assault by beating against Mr Ahmed and Mr Haigh and racially aggravated assault upon Mr Ahmed.

Despite her guilty pleas, she said: ‘Most of what that man said is completely untrue’, referring to Mr Bryan’s prosecution statement.

She claimed the CCTV showed the fish shop owner assaulting her rather than the other way around.

Both assaults happened at The Chipping Forecast, a fish and chip restaurant, in Notting Hill, which has since closed permanently 

Gatacre denied racially abusing Mr Ahmed and said: ‘I never ever said such words to him.

‘He had a camera in my face for a very long time which I’m sure is illegal.

‘Finally I said “get that thing away from me” and I put my hand out.’

She insisted she only pleaded guilty as her ex-solicitor forced her to do so.

‘I don’t know what to say apart from the fact that I didn’t assault anyone’, Gatacre added.

The actress, from Notting Hill, was fined a total of £400 and ordered to pay Mr Ahmed £300 compensation.

She must also pay Mr Haigh £200 compensation and was made subject of a restraining order barring her from contacting either of the men.

She was also told she must not enter the restaurant.

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