Olympic show jumper and lover in ‘violent attack on female groom’

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An Olympic show jumper held a female groom while his lover attacked her, a court heard yesterday.

Benjamin Maher and Kathleen Baker found Megan Pugh in a pub after an exhibition event in Hickstead.

The jury heard that there was ‘bad blood’ between the two women and that they had collided earlier in the day on the show jumping course in West Sussex.

Accused: A court heard that Benjamin Maher punched a groom in the face and that Kathleen Baker lashed out and kicked her with her high heels

Accused: A court heard that Benjamin Maher punched a groom in the face and that Kathleen Baker lashed out and kicked her with her high heels

Miss Pugh gave evidence saying she went to the pub with friends after she finished work.

“I knew Kathleen and Ben were at the pub too, but I made a point to move far away from them after she pushed me earlier,” she said.

Suddenly I heard a woman shout “snails” in my direction. I looked up and it was Kathleen.

The next thing I knew was Kathleen right in my face, screaming and screaming.

Then I saw her face change and she suddenly looked wild.

‘It was really scary. Then she lashed out at me and punched me in the mouth.

“There was a force behind it because it knocked me back.”

‘Star of the future’: Maher, 25, rides his horse Rolette at the Olympic Games in Beijing

Miss Pugh said she looked up from the floor to see Maher, 25, punch her in the face.

“He held me while she kept kicking me with her high heels,” she added.

“It didn’t end until a guy dragged her off me and even then she lashed out and tried to kick me.”

The court heard that the alleged attack took place on July 29, 2006, after a Samsung Super League exhibition in Hickstead.

Prosecutor Roger Booth said: “It was a completely unprovoked attack. There was no element of self-defense in it.

‘It was an act of senseless violence in which they both played a part.

“There had been bad blood between these two women for a while, and on this day Baker was in a very unkind state of mind.”

Brighton Crown Court was told Miss Pugh had extensive ‘heel-shaped’ spots on her stomach and was experiencing long-lasting back pain.

Maher, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was the youngest member of the British equestrian team in Beijing, finishing 20th in the individual show jumping final.

Fifth in the UK, he was named rider of the month by the British Show Jumping Association in August.

According to his website, the judges said his qualities should put him on the road to success for the 2012 London Olympics.

He’s been dating Baker, 26, from Orpington in Kent for three years.

She is also an avid rider and a member of the British Show Jumping Association.

Baker and Maher deny that assault actually caused bodily harm.

The process continues.

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