A rock star “kicked the hell out” of a valuable shop door in Clifton Village.
David Francolini, who has drummed in bands including Dark Star and Levitation, launched a series of blows on a Grade II-listed Victorian door at Brunel Tech, a computer repair shop in The Mall.
The 51-year-old, who emerged in Bristol’s music scene in the 1980s, appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (August 17) via video from his home in a village in the south of France.
Francolini, of Route du Calvaire in Copponex, admitted causing £2,800 worth of damage to the oak door at the store, which has since rebranded to Computer Repair SW.
Owner Saty Singh, 60, said the musician “barged” into his shop without a mask late on the morning of January 9, a time when coronavirus rates were high.
Francolini started a confrontation with staff, briefly left the store, then returned and kicked the door “more than six times”, Mr Singh added.
Mr Singh said he feels “very frustrated” that Francolini must only pay £200 in compensation, when replacing the door will cost £2,800.
The drummer’s lawyer described his client as being “in negative income” and able to pay at a rate of only £20 per month.
“The gentleman came to us to buy a charger for his MacBook,” said Mr Singh. “I operate from the office above the shop, and my son has the shop floor. The shop was closed but we were still open to serve the local community for tech repairs.
“The shutters were down on the shopfront, but we were asking people who needed emergency repairs to come round to our side door. The man buzzed and our part-time employee, a young student at Bristol University, opened the door.
“The man just pushed his way past our employee. He wasn’t wearing a mask. He had no pre-booked appointment.”
The shop owner said Francolini was “pretty excited” and carrying a MacBook worth around £1,800 to £2,000. Mr Singh’s son informed the drummer that a MacBook charger was available for £45.
Mr Singh added: “The man said, ‘I can’t afford that.’ It got quite heated and I could hear something going on from upstairs.
“I heard my son say, ‘Can you leave?’ I was standing at the top of the stairs. I wanted to protect my son. He called up, ‘Dad, it’s OK.’
“My son had told the man he could just take the lead for the charger, which was worth around £10. It wasn’t the actual charger, but my son gave him the lead for free, just to get him out of the shop because he was not wearing a mask.”
Francolini left the premises but Mr Singh says the part-time staff member was “pretty shaken up” by what had happened.
“He’s not paid to be a doorman,” Mr Singh added. “I apologised profusely [for Francolini’s actions]. It was aggressive for literally no reason. He had to go home to get his head together.
“About 20 to 30 minutes later, there was knocking and banging on the side door. I went downstairs and the man was there again. He said he’d come to buy a charger.
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“I opened the door slightly. He was on the threshold, so I said, ‘Would you mind stepping back please?’
“He said ‘no no no’, so I said, ‘I’m asking you to step back.’ He started to raise his voice and I said I couldn’t help him until he stepped back. At the deli opposite, people were queueing for their lunch and could hear something going on.”
“I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you again, I can’t help you until you step back.’ And with that he tried to push past.”
Mr Singh remembers seeing Francolini’s hand on the door and thinking: “This is going to turn horrible if he enters.”
He recalls Francolini saying “I want my f***ing machine”, as the musician kicked the door back at Mr Singh.
“I managed to close this big old Victorian door but I got a full blast in my elbow,” the shop owner added. “After I managed to get the door shut, he started to kick the hell out of it. It was more than six times.”
Mr Singh says he was perplexed to hear Francolini shout “he’s stolen my laptop” when the MacBook was not in the store.
“I was looking at the door frame and bits were falling out,” the shop owner added. “The tenants upstairs were in shock. They were watching from behind me.
“This heavy oak door was flapping at the bottom by the sheer force he was kicking it. Eventually it subsided, he went away and I called police.”
“I feel he’s gotten away with it,” the show owner said. “I’ve had a £2,800 quote to replace the door. The inside of it has been reinforced with bolt screws but it has to be replaced. It would be for the landlady to pay but I don’t see why she should have to.
“I’m 61 next month and I work bloody hard for what I do. I wish I could spend my time in France like him. I can’t see how he justifies not paying the cost.”
Mr Singh said he is “not giving up that easily” and will look into legal options to make Francolini cover the full cost of a replacement.
The drummer, who performed in Bristol indie rock band Dragons in the 2000s, runs a London-based record label called Komplex Recordings.
Presiding Justice Mrs Susan Helfer sentenced him to a 12-month conditional discharge, imposing £85 in prosecution costs and a £22 victim services surcharge on top of compensation. She allowed Francolini to pay £20 a month.
Mr Singh praised the police officers who dealt with the case. He described them as “so, so good”, adding: “They were very professional and took care of everything. They did everything they possibly could.”