A PROMINENT businessman slapped his estranged wife in front of her friends at a busy New Forest pub.

Logistics firm boss Simon Hawtrey-Coombs hit his former partner with a “short and sharp” slap to her back as she socialised with friends at The White Buck in Burley.

The 52-year-old also sent his ex-partner a number of “abusive” messages following an “acrimonious” end to their four year marriage.

Now Hawtrey-Coombs, who is the director of Dorset based logistics firm Hawtrey Logistics Ltd, has been sentenced to a 12 month community order.

He had previously admitted two counts of harassment and had been found guilty of one count of assault following a trial at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

During his sentencing, on Monday, the court heard how Hawtrey-Coombs harassed his former partner following the breakdown of their marriage.

Prosecutor Leah Hart said Hawtrey-Coombs sent a number of abusive messages through mobile text messages and email.

Ms Hart said the businessman had threatened to disclose private information about his ex-partner to friends and family members.

The court heard that in the messages Hawtrey-Coombs said he would attempt to “ruin” his estrange wife’s reputation within the community.

Ms Hart said one of the harassment counts related to abusive messages sent between February and March last year, followed by the second count, between June and July.

The court also heard Hawtrey-Coombs slapped his estranged wife while she was out with friends at The White Buck in Burley on March 12.

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She said: “The defendant came up to the table and slapped her across the back, which made her move forward.”

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she was “distressed” and “sad” about the situation.

Mitigating for Hawtrey-Coombs, Helen Jones said her client was a successful and well respected businessman.

She said: “He is a respected man in his community. He is a successful businessman who has worked extremely hard to build his business over the last 20 years.

“There are several character references from respected members of the community who are aware of these matters.

“All mention these being very out of character for him. He does a huge amount of charitable work and mentoring in the community.”

She added that Hawtrey-Coombs had shown remorse for his actions.

In sentencing, District Judge Peter Greenfield said Hawtrey-Coombs had “humiliated” his victim.

He said: “That was a nasty thing to do with her friends there at the pub in Burley. This was a public place and unfortunately I think you tried to humiliate her because her friends were there.”

Hawtrey-Coombs, of Marina Close, Boscombe, was sentenced to a 12 month community order, including 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 60 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £800 to his victim and court costs of £500.

A restraining order was also put in place, banning Hawtrey-Coombs from contacting his victim for 12 months.