Gilbey gin empire heir accused of assaulting mother

A trial will get underway on 9 February. Picture: TSPL
A trial will get underway on 9 February. Picture: TSPL

The heir to the world-famous Gilbey gin empire has appeared in court accused of assaulting his elderly mother when visiting her countryside home.

Sir Walter Gavin Gilbey, 68, said she fell over when left alone in the room and will return to court to fight the case next month.

He is charged with assaulting Lady Elizabeth Gilbey, 95, at her £950,000 property in Bury, Pulborough, Sussex, on 26 August last year when visiting from his home in the Highlands.

Yesterday at Crawley Magistrates Court the trial date of 9 February was confirmed.

Sir Walter, of Stafford Road, Dornoch, gave police a prepared statement when questioned over the allegation and answered all their questions “no comment”.

He said his mother’s eyesight is poor and they have had rows over his objections to her continuing to drive.

Prosecutor Miss Melanie Wotton told Crawley Magistrates Court at the first hearing last November: “She doesn’t want any contact with him at all. She said specifically to the officer she is scared of him.”

Sir Walter continues to handle his mother’s money and signs cheques on her behalf and his lawyer told the court: “He fears for his mother’s finances because he believes his sister is pulling strings behind the scenes.”

The lawyer said his client endures a “very poor relationship” with sister Camilla Elizabeth Frederick, 64.

“The sister has contacted the police wishing bail conditions of non-contact,” said Miss Wotton.

District Judge Christopher James imposed conditional bail “to prevent further offences and interference with witnesses” ordering Sir Walter not to visit his mother’s home or contact her, except through solicitors.

Sir Walter is the fourth Baronet of the Gilbey baronetcy and the title’s seat is Elsenham Hall, Essex.

The title was created in 1893 for the wine merchant, stock-breeder, agriculturalist and philanthropist Walter Gilbey.

He was chairman and co-founder of W & A Gilbey, established in 1857, a wine merchants and distillers most famous for London dry gin.

The brand is now owned by industry giants Diageo.

Twice-divorced Sir Walter is known by his middle name Gavin and the Eton-educated businessman was a director of Gilbey’s International Inc between 1986 and 1992.

He succeeded as fourth baronet in October 1991.

The trial will take place at Horsham Magistrates Court.