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Robert Newmark admits to driving Ferrari through red light and hitting woman’s car while Cafe Hampstead collapsed

PUBLISHED: 17:24 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:58 10 December 2019

Robert Newmark after the crash in St John's Wood, where he admitted to driving through a red light. Picture: Sara Tesfu

Robert Newmark after the crash in St John's Wood, where he admitted to driving through a red light. Picture: Sara Tesfu

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Hampstead restauranteur Robert Newmark has admitted crashing his Ferrari into a St John’s Wood estate agent’s car after driving through a red light last Christmas.

Newmark appeared at Bromley Magistrates Court on Tuesday (December 10) charged with driving without due care and attention.

Victim Sara Tesfu, who was in her Mini when it was struck and suffered whiplash, had been ready to give evidence in a trial in front of magistrates but Newmark changed his plea to guilty at the 11th hour.

He had already admitted driving a car without having an MOT.

The 67-year-old, of Lyndhurst Terrace, had been providing consultancy services to Cafe Hampstead last year, and was a shareholder in the restaurant. It folded in January. He is still subject to a banning order as a company director from 2016. He is now backing Martha's in Soho, as well as continuing to have stakes in Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch and Notting Hill.

Beach Blanket Babylon founder Robert Newmark at his Hampstead home in 2015. Picture: Tom DunkleyBeach Blanket Babylon founder Robert Newmark at his Hampstead home in 2015. Picture: Tom Dunkley

As the company that ran the eatery in Rosslyn Hill was collapsing, owing £346,000 to creditors and more to unpaid staff, Newmark was driving down Marlborough Place in his 2010 Ferrari California.

The court heard that CCTV footage from the New London Synagogue showed that as he approached the junction with Abbey Road on December 17, he slowed down, but drove across despite the light being on red.

He crashed into the 29-year-old's Mini Cooper, as she was driving down Abbey Road. The right of her car was damaged but has since been repaired.

Defending Newmark, Jonathan Polnay told the court that he had changed his plea after seeing the CCTV footage.

Moments before the crash where Robert Newmark hit St John's Wood estate agent Sara Tesfu. Picture: Sara TesfuMoments before the crash where Robert Newmark hit St John's Wood estate agent Sara Tesfu. Picture: Sara Tesfu

He said: "The defendant's car arrives, stops at the lights and then pulls into the junction where the collision takes place. It's not a case of running a red light, rather driving through it. He stopped at the light before driving on. The issue in this is: was the light red when he went through or was it green?

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"Until today the defendant's position was that at a red light, there is no reason he would drive through it. He stopped quite clearly."

Mr Polnay added: "He has looked [at the CCTV] and come to accept that he must have been wrong. It's a hard realisation to come to."

The barrister added that Newmark had been in a "stressful situation at the time with some family matters but nothing that he thinks would cover this".

"He apologises to the court, the victim and those who have had to come to court," he said.

The bench heard that Ms Tesfu had suffered whiplash and had an MRI scan on her knee in the aftermath of the crash. She requested police involvement after it had initially been reported as a "damage-only" crash. She told this newspaper afterwards that she had to press officers to investigate it.

In mitigation, Mr Polnay told Ms Osmond that Newmark was "involved in the restaurant industry", which meant he needed his car to travel to get between premises.

He was fined £2872, including £625 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170. Newmark will also have five points added to his driving licence, which was clean before this morning's hearing.

Speaking to the Ham&High afterwards, Ms Tesfu said she believed the punishment should have been harsher.

"He showed a blatant disregard for people on the road," she said. "He should be banned from the road."

She said it had a huge effect on her, as the incident happened days before Christmas.

"I have had to deal with all of this, it was very stressful. I had to use all my time getting evidence and I don't feel the police helped me. Him changing his plea to guilty so late shows you what type of character he is."


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