A BUSINESS tycoon who slayed the Dragons’ Den has admitted headbutting a former employee.
Cleaning firm boss Tony Earnshaw, from Washington, won a £100,000 investment from Duncan Bannatyne on the hit BBC2 show in 2009.
But Sunderland magistrates told him to clean up his act after he pleaded guilty to assaulting ex-worker Stephen Hunter.
Earnshaw was ordered him to pay £500 compensation and attend anger management sessions.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said a feud over holiday pay erupted when they met by chance at a hairdresser’s in The Galleries shopping centre, Washington, in January.
Mr Anderson said: “They spoke very briefly and the defendant asked him for a word round the corner.
“He thought he might be able to sort out the previous dispute, but when they got round the corner Mr Earnshaw headbutted him in the face.
“His right eyebrow needed three stitches and three paper stitches.”
Mr Anderson added that Earnshaw denied the offence on arrest, and pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.
But the UK Commercial Cleaning boss admitted a lesser charge of assault on the day the case was due to be committed for trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Mitigating, Gavin Sword said: “He is ashamed of himself and the way he acted.
“Over the years he has got a record, but he has moved away from offending behaviour and from fairly lowly beginnings has made considerable success.
“He set up a company in 2004 and that has now expanded nationwide.
“He has offices in three areas across the country and is to open a new office shortly.”
“The Tony Earnshaw now is not the Tony Earnshaw who accumulated that record some time ago.
“He says he keeps himself to himself, with his partner and her son.
“He does not indulge in drink or drugs.
“He engages in some charity work and is running the Great North Run this year for a particular charity.
“Unfortunately in this situation he has reacted and reacted badly.”
Chairman of the bench Derek Moss told Earnshaw: “It is not the first time you have had a section 39 assault – you had one in 2006.
“To see you back before the court for the same thing is not good.
“For you, as an employer, to do this to a previous employee is totally unacceptable.”
Earnshaw was ordered to pay his victim £500 compensation, £80 court costs and complete a 12-month community order – looking at anger management – and do 150 hours unpaid work.