Russian heiress and part-time model found guilty of going on 17-hour booze binge while looking after a child
A RUSSIAN billionaire heiress has been found guilty of going on a 17-hour booze binge while looking after a child after magistrates dismissed claims she drank only two glasses of wine.
A court heard that part-time model Nicole Ovchinnikova, 37, drank from 5.40pm to 10.30am the following morning in a London hotel, while with the youngster and a male friend.
The socialite and fashion designer, said to be pals with Kate Moss and Paris Hilton, had told Stratford Magistrates Court she was not drunk.
But, the manager of The International Britannia Hotel in Canary Wharf said she could not walk or talk properly when he saw her in the lobby at 7am.
Ovchinnikova's claims she and the child went to bed before returning for breakfast the following morning were dismissed by magistrates, as was her bid to explain her "groggy" state through insomnia pills.
The court also heard Ovchinnikova, previously known as Nicole Sconciaforni, had verbally abused police officers called the following morning due to child protection concerns.
The cops said they smelt alcohol on her breath and saw a number of glasses on a table.
Former PC Louise Wright said Ovchinnikova was "shouting about paedophiles" and banged her hands on the floor of the police van as she was taken to Bethnal Green Police Station.
Sonya Fox Smith prosecuting said: "The night manager said he saw from his office that on a number of occasions he saw you in the lobby between 1am and 7.30am.
"He not only saw you but he says as he went about his duties he saw you being loud and that you couldn't walk properly. His view was that you were drunk.
"The day manager also saw you in the lobby at 7am but you say you were in your room at that time."
It was put to Ovchinnikova she was drunk because she was upset at hearing her ex-partner had got her best friend pregnant.
Where the law stands
Under the Licensing Act 1902 it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a child in a public place.
The law forbids being drunk on a highway, public place or any licensed premises while in charge of a child under the age of seven.
The crime can be punished by a fine or up to a month in prison.
Solicitor advocate Joy Merriam said there was no objective test to see how drunk a parent was, but the key issue is around safeguarding.
She said: "The threshold would be whether the child was compromised. If you're having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, you probably wouldn't be considered drunk in charge of a child.
"If you're obviously impaired, if it's a young child who needs you to be alert and capable of safeguarding them, that would be the real test."
Finding her guilty Danni Tate, chair of the bench said: "Mr Brierley (her friend) was so drunk at one point he fell over.
"The female couldn't walk in a straight line and police were called over concerns for the child.
"We find the two managers evidence to be credible, there's no reason for them to lie.
"PC Wright said the defendant was so abusive she had to call for extra help, she was also slurring her speech.
"She was then more abusive to the custody sergeant.
"During the interview she said she had three bottles of wine.
"We find it unlikely she would have believed that to make this up would be a credible way to get out of trouble.
"Therefore we find the case proven for the standard required and the defendant guilty of being drunk in charge of a child."
Ovchinnikova was released on unconditional bail to be sentenced at Thameside Magistrates Court next month.
Ovchinnikova was a prominent figure on the London party scene in the late 2000s and has counted Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, Kelly Brook, Sophie Anderton and the late Peaches Geldof as friends.
Under the name Sconciaforni, she hit the headlines in 2010 when former Chelsea and England captain John Terry allegedly tried to pull her at Wayne Bridge’s party at Whisky Mist in Mayfair moments after his wife had left.
She had been out with former Sugababe singer Amelle Berrabah when Terry allegedly made his move.
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