Global banker and his lawyer are suing Kent trader for £ 200,000 for alleging he arranged the break-in

A disgruntled CCTV installer arranged the break-in of a multi-million pound mansion on the French Riviera after clashes over his unpaid £ 8,000 bill, property owners alleged.

Banker Ivan Ritossa and his lawyer Marina claim that Bruce Pearce, a security expert from Kent, broke into their sprawling vacation home in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on November 30, 2019.

They claim the handyman who was hired to install the security system on their property organized the break-in after developing an “irrational hostility” towards Ms. Ritossa after fighting over his last unpaid £ 8,000 bill.

The couple, who also own a £ 10 million Chelsea mansion, claim the worker also felt “infected” by Ms. Ritossa.

They are now suing Mr Pearce and his firm Elegant Integration Ltd for £ 58,592.43 in damages and over £ 145,000 in legal fees, the Central London County Court heard.

But Mr Pearce defends the claim, which he describes as “strange and speculative,” claiming it arose out of a “grudge” Ms. Ritossa developed towards him.

He is also suing the wealthy couple for paying their final bill for £ 7,820.16.

Ivan Ritossa and his wife Marina (pictured together) claim that CCTV installer Bruce Pearce caused their holiday villa in France to be broken into on November 30, 2019 and are now suing him

The couple claim that the dealer arranged the break-in at their holiday home in St. Jean Cap Ferrat (pictured) “out of spite”.

The couple’s attorney James Wibberley told Judge David Saunders that it was their turn to their L’Aniram du Cap vacation home in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, which has a main house, pool and separate cottage.

Mr Wibberley told the court that there was a breach of plaintiffs’ property in France in 2019, which resulted in the damage and / or theft of a security system and other items supplied and / or installed by the defendants.

“Plaintiffs believe that the break-in was maliciously committed by – or on behalf of – the defendant after Ms. Ritossa refused to pay Mr. Pearce’s final bills,” he said.

He told the judge that after Mr. Pearce was hired in 2018, relations “deteriorated” with the installation of the security system, with Ms. Ritossa complaining that the work was not completed and the system was not working properly.

For his part, Mr Pearce refused to do any further work until he was paid in advance.

The break-in occurred in November 2019 and Mr Pearce emailed the couple shortly afterwards saying he was no longer doing any work for them.

The attorney told the judge that the break-in “included the deactivation and removal of the security system, doorphone system and Sonance speakers that were supplied and / or installed by the defendants”.

“Nothing was taken except items installed by Mr. Pearce,” he said.

‘The intruder was also able to remotely access, disable and delete the library of CCTV records.

“Plaintiffs believe that the break-in was carried out by Mr. Pearce and / or one or more persons acting under his direction.

“The plaintiffs’ case is that Mr. Pearce was the only person able to clear the direct evidence of the perpetrator’s break-in.”

He continued, “Rather than simply denying responsibility for the break-in, the defendants’ defense is based on Ms. Ritossa having suffered a mental breakdown that led her to make up the things that are the subject of the lawsuit.

“The way in which the defendants attacked Ms. Ritossa – attacks that go beyond anything that could be considered necessary or even relevant to her defense – shows a clear and irrational hostility towards her.

Kent CCTV installer Bruce Pearce defends the claim, which he describes as “fancy and speculative”.

Mr Pearce claims that lawyer Marina Ritossa (pictured) has developed a “grudge” against him and is also taking action against the wealthy couple

“This is reflected not only in the simultaneous description of Mr Pearce that he was ‘stung’ by Ms. Ritossa, but also in the very personal and vengeful nature of his testimony,” he added.

The lawyer said Ms. Ritossa had also been faced with allegations that she was “unmoved, rude, hysterical and unstable / unbalanced” and added that “Mr. Pearce’s contempt for Ms. Ritossa was palpable”.

Mr. Wibberley continued, “The court will form its own opinion on Ms. Ritossa’s evidence and whether it is really plausible that she invented the break-in as the result of a mental breakdown caused by persecution for about £ 8,000.

“For the above reasons, the court is required to give plaintiffs a judgment of £ 58,592.43 plus costs based on the compensation.”

But Rowan Pennington-Benton, who is representing Mr Pearce, denied the claim, saying there was no direct evidence that the dealer was behind the raid.

He said: “Mr. Pearce vehemently and wholeheartedly denies this and regards this claim as an undeserved intimidation tactic by wealthy property owners who have falsely believed that they have broken into their property.

“He understands that they’re angry, but claims that they were just wrong and shouldn’t have persecuted him that way.

“Mr. Pearce, a hard working trader with modest means, feels that he had no choice but to defend his position, even if the financial and emotional strain was significant. In the end, he doesn’t feel like he can admit things he didn’t do.

“The defendants categorically deny these allegations, arguing that sophisticated break-in and break-in of plaintiffs’ property overseas due to unpaid bills of £ 7,820.16 is absurd and speculative.

“No direct evidence has been presented to show that the defendants – in whatever capacity – were involved in the alleged break-in. The entirety of the claim is therefore based purely on speculation, inference and conjecture.

“The property is a second – or more – home. It is clear that any number of people had access to the property, knew the facility and the security system and when Mr. and Mrs. Ritossa would not be at home.

“This includes caretakers, gardeners, construction workers, security and so on at different times. This provides an extremely weak foundation on which to build a case built entirely of inference.

“It is unbelievable and implausible that Mr. Pearce orchestrated a complicated break-in and break-in in a foreign country because of an unpaid bill.

“Plaintiffs have asserted on multiple occasions that the suspected intruder was able to access and delete the cloud drive containing all of the CCTV recordings, and that only someone with the administrator’s username and password could have done so. They also stated that Mr. Pearce was the only person with the administrator username and password.

“However, the defendants have produced evidence that clearly shows that Ms. Ritossa was given administrative access to the CCTV equipment by Mr. Pearce, which she could access both internally and remotely.

“This information could and is very likely to have been passed on to others for the time she was away from home, that is, the time she and her husband are in the UK.

“It is clear from the correspondence between the parties and the evidence submitted that Ms. Pearce in particular has a very grim opinion of Mr. Pearce, which could be termed a ‘grudge’.

“At least the simultaneous correspondence indicates a quick-tempered and somewhat unpredictable approach to disputes. It is not clear to what extent these factors cloud the judgment of the real possibilities and probabilities in this matter.

“The conclusion is that this claim is made out of defiance and resentment, as opposed to a rational and proportionate assessment of the actual evidence and inherent probabilities.

“That’s a shame, but the defendants can only defend themselves and claim the outstanding fees with a modest counterclaim.”

Mr. Ritossa gained fame and fortune from pursuing a career as one of the world’s finest bankers and was credited with reshaping and modernizing the Barclays foreign exchange branch.

The couple once owned one of Australia’s most expensive homes, a beachfront mansion in Sydney valued at $ 45 million a decade ago.

The judge has now adjourned the case to come back at a later date.

Leave a Comment