A banker and his wife are suing a tradesman for £200,000 after claiming he arranged for their multimillion-pound French Riviera villa to be burgled.

Ivan Ritossa and his lawyer wife Marina claim CCTV installer Bruce Pearce, from Kent, arranged for their sprawling holiday villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to be broken into ‘as an act of spite’ on November 30, 2019.

They claim the tradesman, who was hired to install the security system at their property, organised the burglary after developing an ‘irrational animosity’ towards Mrs Ritossa after clashes over his final unpaid £8,000 bill. 

The couple, whose also own a £10million Chelsea mansion, are suing Mr Pearce and his company Elegant Integration Ltd for £58,592.43 in damages, plus lawyers’ costs of over £145,000, Central London County Court heard.

However, Mr Pearce defends the claim which he describes as ‘outlandish’ and speculative. He claims it is the result of an ‘grudge’ that Mrs Ritossa has towards him.

He is also countersuing the wealthy couple for payment of his £7,820.16 final invoice.  

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

Ivan Ritossa (pictured with Marina) claims that Bruce Pearce, a CCTV installer, arranged for the breakage of their vacation villa in France on November 30, 2019, and they are now suing him

The couple’s barrister James Wibberley told Judge David Saunders that the row was centred around their holiday home, L’Aniram du Cap in St Jean Cap Ferrat – which boasts extensive grounds, a pool, a main house and separate cottage.

The court heard Mr Wibberley tell the story of a burglary at claimants’ French property in 2019, during which security systems and other goods supplied or installed by the defendants were stolen and damaged.

He explained that claimants believed the burglary was committed by the defendants or for them. It took place after Mrs Ritossa refused to pay Mr Pearce his final invoices.

According to him, the relationship between Mr Pearce and Mrs Ritossa had deteriorated after they hired him in 2018 for the installation of the security systems.

For his part, Mr Pearce refused to do any additional work until he was paid upfront.

On November 19, 2019, the burglary took place. Mr Pearce sent an email to the couple soon after, stating that he was no longer available for any further work.

Judge was informed by the barrister that burglary consisted in the ‘disabling of the security system, entry system and Sonance speaker supplied and/or mounted by the defendants’.

He said that no items were taken except those installed by Mr Pearce.

“The intruder could also remotely disable, delete and access the CCTV library recordings.

The claimants assert that Mr Pearce or someone acting under his direct supervision committed the break-in.

It is claimed that only Mr. Pearce had the ability to erase direct evidence of the perpetrator who committed the break in.

He said, “Rather than denying the responsibility for the burglary, the defense of Mrs Ritossa is that she suffered a mental disorder that caused her to create the claims.

“The defendants’ attacks on Mrs Ritossa, which go beyond what could possibly be considered relevant or necessary to their defense, shows an irrational hatred towards her.

CCTV installer Bruce Pearce, from Kent, is defending the claim, which he calls 'outlandish and speculative'

Bruce Pearce from Kent is the CCTV installer. He defends his claim as ‘outlandish’ and’speculative.

Mr Pearce claims lawyer Marina Ritossa (pictured) developed a 'grudge' towards him and is also countersuing the wealthy couple

Mr. Pearce asserts that Marina Ritossa (pictured), his lawyer, has developed a ‘grudge’ towards him. The wealthy couple counter-sues.

“This is evident not only from Mr Pearce’s contemporaneous descriptions of feeling that Mrs Ritossa had ”shafted’’ him, but also because of the highly personal, vindictive nature his evidence,” he said.

The barrister said Mrs Ritossa had also faced allegations that she was ‘erratic, rude, hysterical and appeared unstable/unbalanced,’ adding that Mr Pearce’s ‘contempt for Mrs Ritossa was palpable’.

Mr Wibberley continued: ‘The court will form its own view of Mrs Ritossa’s evidence and whether it is really plausible that she has invented the break-in as a result of a mental breakdown caused by being chased for circa £8,000.

‘For the reasons outlined above, the court is invited to enter judgment for the claimants in the sum of £58,592.43, plus costs on the indemnity basis.’

Rowan Pennington Benton represented Mr Pearce and denied that the raid was orchestrated by a trader.

He stated that Mr Pearce strongly and completely denied this assertion and viewed this as an intimidatory tactic used by wealthy property owners to create the impression that he had broken into their properties.

He understands their anger but insists that it is wrong.

“Mr Pearce is an honest trader with modest means and feels that he must defend his position even though it has caused him significant financial and emotional stress. He doesn’t feel that he is able to admit things he didn’t do.

‘The defendants categorically deny these allegations and submit that a sophisticated intrusion and burglary of the claimants’ property, in a foreign country, as a result of unpaid invoices in the sum of £7,820.16, is outlandish and speculative.

The defendants have not been shown to be involved in any way with the break-in. The claim’s entirety is therefore entirely based only on speculation, deduction, and supposition.

“The property can be used as a second or additional residence. It’s clear that anyone could have access to the property. They knew about the security system and layout. This was even before Mr. Ritossa left.

These include, at various times, caretakers (gardeners), builders, security, and so forth. It is a weak foundation upon which you can build an inference-free case.

“It’s unbelievable and absurd that Mr. Pearce orchestrated a complex intrusion and burglary to a foreign country for an unpaid bill.

“The claimants claimed on multiple occasions that an alleged intruder had access to the cloud drive containing all CCTV recordings, and could delete them. Only someone with administrator username/password would be able. The claimants also claimed that only Mr. Pearce had the administrator password and username.

“However, defendants have presented evidence that clearly shows Mrs Ritossa received administrator access by Mr Pearce to the CCTV equipment. She could access it both inside the property and remotely. 

“Those details may have been provided, and most likely, to other people, during periods she wasn’t home (i.e. her husband is in the UK during the times she’s not home.

It is evident from the inter-party communication and evidence that Mrs Pearce has a negative view of Mr Pearce.

“Contemporaneous” correspondence, at best, indicates an uncoordinated and sometimes erratic approach towards disputes. These factors may be clouding your judgment about the true possibilities and probabilities in the matter.

“The inference here is that the claim is made from spite and resentment and not a rational and proportionate analysis of actual evidence and inherent probabilities.

“This is unfortunate, but the defendants are unable to do anything other than defend themselves and try to recover the fees owed.

His career as a top-ranking banker in the United States earned him fame and fortune.

One of Australia’s most expensive homes, the beachside house in Sydney that they once owned was worth $45million 10 years ago.

Judge has adjourned this case until a later time.