Adrian Sutil, Force India, Interlagos, 2011

Suspended jail sentence for Sutil

2012 F1 season

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Adrian Sutil, Force India, Interlagos, 2011
Sutil was found guilty of grievous bodily harm

Adrian Sutil has been handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence by a court in Germany.

Sutil received the sentence along with a ??200,000 fine after being found guilty of inflicting bodily harm on Eric Lux in a nightclub in Shanghai last year.

The former Force India driver told the court he had apologised and claimed he had only meant to spill his drink on Lux when he wounded him with a champagne glass during the fracas. Lux is the CEO of Lotus owners Genii Capital.

Sutil is without a drive for 2012 having lost his seat at Force India to Nico Hulkenberg last year.

2012 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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140 comments on “Suspended jail sentence for Sutil”

  1. Call me cynical, but I guess he’s done a Gachot then.

    1. The difference is Gachot’s sentence wasn’t suspended.

      1. Im not always on fights but I guess I should spend a couple years in jail, just for enjoying fridays. Im just like Rebecca Black.

      2. What a story!

  2. Does this mean having a conviction against him, it will make getting into the US (and others) difficult? Less chance of getting a drive in the future?

    1. I think he’d be more worried about what the FIA might do… suspend/revoke his super license?? At the very least some sort of fine which they will donate to a chartity.

      1. And by ‘charity’, he means Bernie… common knowledge he doesn’t mind bribery these days lol.

        1. When Michael Schumacher was excluded from the 1997 championship, part of his punishment was that he was forced to become a spokesperson for the Make Roads Safe campaign. Part of this involved touring Europe over the 1997-98 winter break, demosntrating a seatbelt simulator, which was basically a seat mounted on a runner that stopped abrupty – like in an accident – to demonstrate the effectiveness of seatbelts. Schumacher literally had to do this hundreds of times in front of crowds.

          I like to imagine that Jacques Villeneuve was at each and every one of these demonstrations, gleefully pushing the button that started the seatbelt simulator.

          1. No wonder he’s in such good shape

          2. And that is why Schumi is still so keenly involved with road safety campaigns today.

      2. From the reaction by Sutil’s manager posted in this article it seems they have already cleared the matter of the FIA possibly taking interest in this matter, stating there is no such worry.

    2. Definitely will make it harder. He wont be able to travel under the ESTA program and so will need to visit the country embassy to get a full visa. This will make getting into the US and Australia much more frustrating.

      1. so its not all bad news for Sutil then

    3. If you have powerful friends these restrictions count for nothing. A rich friend of mine with a sentence for cocaine dealing on their record, now lives and works in LA quite happily and never had the slightest problem getting in, ‘mummy had a word’. They’ll send you home for sending the wrong tweet, but privilege opens all doors.

  3. Anyone find that fine a little excessive? Some people get fined a two digit some for an assault and a far smaller sentence than that.

    I guess it’s relative to his earnings, but for an assault (a seemingly provoked one at that) doesnt warrant a fine that big in my opinion. People have done far worse and recieved far less punishment.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      31st January 2012, 11:32

      It’s a suspended sentence. That’s never excessive.
      People can usually expect to get actual jail time for a serious assault like this.

      1. I wasnt contesting the suspended sentence, just the fine. If people get fined 6 figures sums for assault in Europe is it any wonder the economy is in such a state!

        1. Lol, well fines issued as a result of crime has nothing to do with the economy for one. Second, as you say, it will be a means tested fine. Here in the UK fines are issued based on the ability of the defendant to pay. The aim is to ensure a fine does the same ‘damge’ to the offender equally across the board of people with differing incomes.

    2. @jamesf1 Well they’re in a far better position than we are to judge to what degree it was provoked, whether it was intentional and what the extent of Lux’s injuries were.

      But clearly if you hit someone in the neck with a glass you’re on very risky ground. He could quite easily have ended up on trial for something far more serious than GBH.

      So I don’t think an 18-month suspended sentence is necessarily excessive, based on what little we know.

    3. People have done far worse and recieved far less punishment.

      Sutil nearly killed him. He hit Lux just a few millimetres away from his carotid artery. If he had nicked it, Lux could have died before an ambulance arrived. Sutil essentailly committed assault with a deadly weapon.

      You also need to bear in mind that Sutil was prosecuted under German law, not British or American. If Sutil was found guilty of criminal intent – ie that the attack was pre-meditated – then he was lucky to get away with the sentence that was given. It could have been much worse.

      1. Criminal intent is not something you can be found guilty of.

        Every offence has a mental element that needs to be established in order to prove quilt (along with showing the defendant did the act of the offence itself) but that is merely part of the required ‘building blocks’ of establishing guilt. The mental element for an offence like this can be established using a recklessness test. This is a lower degree of intent than pre-meditation for which the latter is far more sersious. Basically with recklessness the defendant is acting without giving thought to the possible consequences of his actions but is still culpable unless other special circumstances exist, such as being below age of criminal culpability for example, or any other available defence.

        I don’t mean this to sound patronising by the way @Prisoner Monkeys, it’s just a pet hate of mine when the law is missquoted on the internet lol.

        1. thats quite interesting and i particularly like the part about “establishing quilt”. a typo of course but your honour that is why the defendant is holding a duvet in the dock.

          1. Haha, that has been bugging me all day! F1 Fanatic needs an ability to self edit posts.

    4. Hard to tell really, without knowing what happened in detail. I would expect that the judge is the one to decide on it. She, as well as prosecution, Lux and Sutil are the ones with the fullest knowledge of it.

      But the fact its a suspended sentence, softens down the sentence by quite a bit. And if Sutil / his lawyers feel its excessive, they will probalby look at overturning it.

    5. Sutil got a hefty fine and suspended sentence.

      To me it looks like the deal was struck between both parties.

      1. To me it looks like the deal was struck between both parties.

        According to the German media, the judge suspended the trail and blocked both parties from offering plea deals to one another.

        1. Thanks for the info, I didn’t know that.

  4. To be honest, I expected something much worse for him.

    But I still can’t figure out how it passed from spill his drink on Lux to make a cut on his neck.

    1. 1. Drink alcohol
      2. Get mad
      3. Drink more
      4. ??????
      5. Stab neck.

      See it’s easy


  5. It seems all along that Lux was really mad and took it deeply personally, he seems to be somewhat of an arrogant person (“How could you do this to me?”). He wanted Sutil to visit him in Luxemburg in order to apologize, but he seemingly fled from him until the Brazilian GP. And he wanted to come to an agreement out of court, but for a double digit million figure, which is absurd.
    Sutil really shouldn’t have done what he did, since it might have somehow cost him his career. This mighty men with the money know how to get you, and I think partly that’s what this was all about.

    1. @magon4

      It seems all along that Lux was really mad and took it deeply personally, he seems to be somewhat of an arrogant person

      Based on what?

      1. Based on what?

        Well, there was this report which states that Lux wanted Sutil to voluntarily leave the sport, and that he repeatedly threatened to destroy Sutil’s career if he did not apologise. Of course, we only have Sutil’s word on that, but if it’s true, I’d say that’s pretty arrogant of Lux to demand that Sutil leave Formula 1.

      2. I am basing myself on Sutil’s explanations at court, which is a shaky thing to do; but from the many interviews and profiles I’ve seen about Sutil here in Germany, it doesn’t seem to me that he wouldn’t be willing to try to make things right.
        The 10 million + demand from Lux and the fact that he seemingly avoided Sutil for the better part of the season to then expect him to go to Luxemburg at least paints him as someone who wasn’t really willing to “solve this between men”.
        Maybe Sutil should’ve just gone to Luxemburg, but then what? Of course, Keith, this is speculation; but it also at least seems somewhat typical behavior of a top manager.
        Having said that, the injuries where dangerous, for sure, and Sutil doesn’t seem to really to admit to any intended assault (he says it was an accident, and the court didn’t buy it).

        1. sounds like a bit of bad lux really.

  6. An unfortunate situation, which should really act as a lesson to us all.

    1. Absolutely, it shows what one moment of madness can do to us.

    2. What’s the lesson? Never stab Eric Lux in the neck with a champagne glass in a Chinese nightclub?

      1. Exactly that @Geemac!

        1. in that case, noted!

      2. @geemac Ditto! One thing I should probably scrub off my -do-before-I-die list.

        1. Reluctantly… ;)

  7. I didnt understand the sentence. Is the jail time suspended for 18 months or the sentence is 18 months in jail that is suspended for some time?

    1. I believe it is eighteen months, suspended for three years.

    2. 18 months, but he doesn’t have to serve, unless something (bad) happens in these 18 months.

      1. he doesn’t have to serve, unless something (bad) happens

        That’s a bit of a vague way of putting it. A suspended sentence meance Sutil is convicted, but he won’t have to go to prison unless he assaults someone else before the probationary period runs out.

        1. Or misses anything else the court asks him to do, I don’t think he would have to assault someone, something less severe could put him into jail already.

        2. Doesnt necessarily mean just an assault. It’s any offence in the next 18 months (although minor traffic ones wont be an issue).

          1. Nevertheless, it’s more than “something bad”.

  8. We don’t know the exact circumstances so we can only speculate whether the sentence is fair or not. I just hope this won’t destroy Adrian’s future as a racing driver. No matter what he did to Eric Lux, he is still one hell of an F1 driver and I also still believe he is not a bad person. Here’s to Adrian’s return to F1 in 2013.

    1. Well said. I think he’s a decent driver and I hope he can get back in the game.

    2. Girts, that’s not how a justice system works. If you’re convicted, that means there is enough evidence to prove the facts, regardless of what else we know or don’t know or who was there or not there. Otherwise there would rarely be convictions or a stable society. If the defendant contests the way the facts have been established, then he needs to appeal.

      1. Criminal cases only need to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to a jury. If you have an incredible advocate for the prosecution and an inexperienced defence advocate, the jury can be made to believe anything regardless of the evidence right before them. I’ve been to many court cases, including murder trials (don’t worry I wasn’t the defendant lol) and the way you phrase your questions and present your case is everything. All you have to do is plant a seed of doubt in a jury members mind that there is another plausable scenario as to what happend, and they will argue over it for hours sometimes while deliberating.

        1. Criminal cases only need to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to a jury

          that is, if there actually is a jury involved (as is the case in the USA, the UK and other countries, but not in Germany!)

          1. Ah ok. I was just speaking generally. I was not aware Germany did not use a jury system however.

          2. No problem, the things you can find out on a F1 blog, eh @nick-uk! :-)

            It tends to be a bit more fact finding based without the Jury, with Judges being professionals with a thorough judical backgroung, but in the end its still people having to decide on the merits of evidence presented to them in each case.

        2. A good point but I think Sutil was able to afford a strong advocate.

      2. I basically trust German courts and I think the court has acted in good faith. If they have found Sutil guilty, they obviously believe to have seen enough evidence. Adrian most probably broke the law but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was morally wrong. We don’t know how the incident developed. I don’t think Adrian just had had a bad day and decided to attack Lux without any reason. Maybe Lux provoked him, laughed at him or whatever. And even if Adrian acted the way he shouldn’t have, I still don’t want to see him leave F1 because of that.

        1. Fully agree on that @Girts, Yes, he his reaction to whatever Lux said to him was crossing a line, but it’s a shame if his driving career is finished by it.

        2. “Adrian most probably broke the law but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was morally wrong.”

          LOL. Are you serious ? By definition, if you brake the law, you’re morally wrong.