A CCTV installer has been ordered to pay a top Barclays banker more than £50,000 after he arranged for his multimillion-pound French Riviera villa to be burgled over an unpaid £8,000 bill. 

Marina Ritossa, Ivan Ritossa’s lawyer husband, claimed that Bruce Pearce had arranged to have their Cote d’Azur villa broken into ‘as an affront’ in November 2019.

The couple, whose main home is a £10million Chelsea mansion, claimed the Sidcup-based CCTV installer felt he had been ‘shafted’ over his bill after putting in a security system at their holiday home.  

Central London County Court heard from Mr Pearce that he was hired to set up the security system for their Villa in St Jean Cap Ferrat. He had developed an ‘irrational animosity towards Mrs Ritossa’ following clashes with his bills.

The couple sued Mr Pearce and his company Elegant Integration Ltd for £58,592.43 in damages, plus lawyers’ costs of over £145,000. 

Mr Pearce denied the ‘outlandish and speculative’ claim and countersued for payment of his £7,820.16 final invoice.

Judge David Saunders has now awarded Mr Pearce just over £3,000 in relation to his unpaid bills, but ordered him to pay his clients over £50,000 in damages – plus their lawyer costs – after finding on the balance of probabilities that he was behind the burglary.

The couple, whose main home is a £10m Chelsea mansion, claimed the Sidcup-based CCTV installer (pictured) felt he had been 'shafted' over his bill after putting in a security system at their holiday home

The couple, whose main home is a £10m Chelsea mansion, claimed the Sidcup-based CCTV installer (pictured) felt he had been ‘shafted’ over his bill after putting in a security system at their holiday home

Ivan Ritossa, who is one of the world's top bankers, (left) and his lawyer wife Marina (right) claimed Bruce Pearce had arranged for their sprawling holiday villa in the Cote d'Azur in France to be broken into 'as an act of spite' on November 30, 2019

Ivan Ritossa (left), who is one the most prominent bankers in the world, and Marina, his wife, claimed Bruce Pearce had arranged to have their large holiday home in France’s Cote d’Azur, broken into ‘as an affront’ on November 30, 2019. 

Central London County Court heard that after being hired to install the security system at their villa in exclusive celebrity hangout St Jean Cap Ferrat (pictured), Mr Pearce organised or carried out a burglary himself, having developed an 'irrational animosity' towards Mrs Ritossa following clashes over his bills

Central London County Court heard from Mr Pearce that he was hired to set up the security system for their Villa in St Jean Cap Ferrat. (pictured) He also developed an ‘irrational animosity towards Mrs Ritossa over clashes regarding his bills.

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

The couple, who live in a £10m London townhouse in exclusive Carlyle Square, once owned one of Australia’s most expensive houses, a beachside mansion in Sydney valued at $45m a decade ago.

James Wibberley was the barrister of the couple and told Judge David Saunders they had a row over their vacation home in France, L’Aniram du Cap.

Mrs Ritossa explained to the court that the Cote d’Azur property has large grounds and a pool. Three staff members look after the family when they are there.

M. Wibberley stated to the court that there had been a burglary at claimants’ French property over the weekend (30 November 2019), where security systems and other goods supplied and/or installed were broken into and stolen.

“The claimants believe the break-in occurred by or on behalf of the defendants in spite of Mrs Ritossa refusing to pay Mr Pearce’s last invoices,” he stated.

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.

The break-in took place in November 2019. Mr Pearce immediately emailed his couple to inform them that he wouldn’t be working for them again.

According to the barrister, the burglary was a ‘disabling and/or removal of the security system, entry system and Sonance speaker supplied by the defendants’.

According to him, ‘None was taken apart from items that Mr Pearce installed’.

The intruder also had the ability to access remotely, disable, and delete all of the recordings from CCTV.

“The claimants think that Mr Pearce, or a group of persons under his supervision, committed the burglary.

It is claimed that only Mr. Pearce had the ability to erase direct evidence that the perpetrator committed the burglary.

The court heard that when Mr Pearce was informed what had happened 'he did not make any enquiry as to what exactly had happened or seek to contact Marina Ritossa (pictured) immediately or in any way to offer help. In short, he did nothing'

A court was told that Mr Pearce didn’t make an inquiry into the facts or contact Marina Ritossa (pictured), immediately, or offer any help. He did not do anything.

Rowan Pennington Benton represented Mr Pearce and denied that the claim was made. She said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

“Mr. Pearce has vehemently denied it and considers this an intruitory tactic of wealthy property owners, who wrongly believe that he broke into their property,” he stated.

“He is able to understand their anger but believes they are wrong. He should have stopped following them in this manner. Pearce, a trader with modest means and hard work, is an admirable individual.

He stated that it was a remarkable and unlikely scenario for Mr Pearce to have orchestrated complex intrusions and burglaries in foreign countries over unpaid bills.

Judge Saunders ruled in favor of the couple. He stated: “In the normal course of events and in particular in this case, claimants have an uphill job in discharge the burden that they are under in circumstances where there is not direct evidence of defendants’ involvement with the burglary.

However, he continued by saying that all evidence indicated that only equipment was stolen from the property and was damaged by defendants. He also stated that wires that connected the cameras to the camera were cut neatly, suggesting that this may have been a burglary by somebody who was upset about Ritossas.

When he was informed what had happened, ‘despite being made aware of a significant problem involving a major customer, Mr Pearce did not actively participate in trying to resolve the problem, simply saying ‘OMG, that’s s**t’.

He did not inquire as to what had occurred or attempt to reach Mrs Ritossa right away to provide assistance. “In short, he did absolutely nothing.”

The judge stated that Mr Pearce’s “surprising lack” of interest in the break-in was consistent with his theory of being fully aware and keeping the break-in out of sight.

“I’m also amazed that defendants haven’t produced any evidence, other than that of Mr Pearce to refute any suggestion that he could be capable of performing or instructing burglary on the weekend of 30 November 2019

He could, for example, have asked friends or neighbours to give witness statements that would prove that he is not engaged. Nothing.

“Nobody has ever been able answer the question why the CCTV equipment and other related equipment were stolen. Also, I find it remarkable that an important and high-end wine store was not locked, according to Mrs Ritossa. A large collection of binoculars with views out over the ocean was also left behind. Nobody was allowed to enter the property.

“It’s possible that the intruders were disturbed, and they fled the scene out of fear, but that scenario is less likely because of the reasons stated above.

“The defendants began this trial in an extremely strong position. There is no evidence to show that they or someone instructed by them carried out the burglary.

I can accept the fact that some events occur by accident in the ordinary course of things.

“But, in this instance, there are more than one coincidence. Actually, they appear all to be related.

‘The evidence leads me to conclude that, in so far as the events of the burglary are concerned, it is more probable than not that this was carried out by Mr Pearce or someone acting in accordance with his instructions,’ he concluded, ordering Mr Pearce and his company to pay £47,866.94 in damages, plus £3254.00 in respect of a small claim relating to work on the couple’s the London property.

He also ordered him to pay the couple’s legal costs, which were said to be about £145,000 during the trial.

He awarded Mr Pearce £3,002.39 for an unpaid invoice to be offset against the damages he must pay.