N-Dubz rapper avoids jail for garage brawl

 

N-Dubz rapper Dappy broke down in tears and shouted 'Yes' after he avoided a jail term today when he was sentenced for assault and affray.

The singer was given a six-month sentence suspended for 18 months at Guildford Crown Court and ordered to do 150 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay £4,500 compensation and £2,000 in costs.

The 25-year-old had faced a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment after being convicted in connection with a brawl at a petrol station in Guildford.

The court heard during a nine-day trial last month that the pop star became angry and violent after two teenaged women “disrespected” him by refusing to get into his car to go to a party at his recording studios, sparking the fight which led to three men being injured.

The trial was told that Dappy, charged under his real name of Costadinos Contostavlos, was out on February 27 last year celebrating the release of his single Rockstar featuring Queen guitarist Brian May.

After spending the night in the VIP area of the Casino nightclub in Guildford drinking sambuca shots and Jack Daniels, the group headed back in three cars to the recording studios in Godalming, where Dappy was recording his debut solo album.

The group stopped at the Shell garage in Woodbridge Road, Guildford, at about 3.30am on February 28 where the violence erupted.

Brian Stork, prosecuting, said Dappy approached the two 19-year-olds, Grace Cochran and Serena Burton, sitting on the kerb outside the station shop and tried to persuade them to get into the car with him.

When they refused these advances and began to ridicule him by calling him "boring", Dappy became angry and called them "sluts".

He told the court: "They had shown me disrespect, a lot."

Dappy denied swearing and spitting at them and was found not guilty of two charges of common assault in relation to the spitting.

Mr Stork said a man called David Jenkins, who had been talking to the two women, stepped in to protect them but was spat at by Dappy.

This spitting, which hit Mr Jenkins, mades up the charge of assault by beating which Dappy was convicted of.

Mr Jenkins put Dappy in a headlock, leading to several other people joining in the fight, including co-defendants Kieran Vassell and Alfred Miller.

Mr Jenkins suffered several broken teeth in the fight while another man, Oliver Billson, suffered a swollen eye and Christopher Gibson's nose was broken.

Dappy denied attempting to pick up the two women and told the court that he only spoke to them to promote his single.

He denied spitting at them and at Mr Jenkins and said his following actions were simply as self-defence to get out of the headlock.

Vassell denied affray and said he only acted to protect Dappy.

The defence said that Miss Cochran and Miss Burton were "unreliable witnesses" as they had sent Twitter and BlackBerry (BBM) messages saying they intended to sell their stories to the national newspapers.

Miss Burton also sent a message saying that she could not remember what happened and that she would "bullshit" when she gave evidence.

The court was told that Dappy had previous convictions for assault and possessing a bladed weapon.

In November 2005, he was sentenced to a community order for possessing a bladed weapon in a public place.

In September 2007, he was given 40 hours of community service for battery when he pushed a taxi driver following an argument in Camden, north London.

And in December 2008, he was given a four-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay compensation for two battery offences which related to him spitting at two women.

Paul Greaney, defending Dappy, said a prison term would bring an end to his career as a singer.

He said: "It is inevitable now that he will not be able to visit or work in America.

"Furthermore, as a result of the convictions, certain important radio stations will not play his records.

"His earning capacity now is extremely limited and those responsible for his management believe a period of custody will bring his career to an end."

He added: "People depend on Mr Contostavlos, I mention not only his family, his mother and brother and his partner and children but a number of people who work for him.

"He is terrified, in particular, not of what will happen to him but that he will not be able to provide financially for his family and others. That is a genuine concern he has expressed to me."

He continued: "These proceedings have had a quite massive impact on Mr Contostavlos and the court would be entitled to conclude that he has learnt a very important lesson indeed and he has shown real insight into the impact on his victims of his behaviour that night."

Mr Greaney added that Dappy had shown this by intervening on Twitter when the two female witnesses received "extremely unpleasant" messages from some of the rapper's supporters.

He said: "This defendant, on that conduct being apparent to him, went on his own Twitter account to post a message to make it clear that he deplored this behaviour and that no fan or associate of his should indulge in that conduct and that did have a real effect and did help bring it to an end."

Praying as the verdict was announced, Dappy, wearing a white shirt and black tie, broke down in tears and shouted "Yes" as Judge Neil Stewart announced that the prison term would be suspended.

He was ordered to pay compensation of £2,000 to Mr Jenkins, £1,500 to Mr Gibson and £1,500 to Mr Billson and was also ordered to pay £2,000 towards court costs.

Dappy's sentence was made up of six months for the affray offence and 14 days to run concurrent for the assault offence.

Judge Stewart told Dappy that although the offences he committed were serious enough to attract a custodial sentence, he would suspend it because of his remorse at his actions.

He said: "The report I have on you suggests you do not present overtly criminal attitudes and this offence has been a wake-up call for you."

He added: "Spitting at someone is a repulsive action and is more serious because you have done something similar in the past.

"Even on that aggravation, the offence would not be so serious as to merit a prison sentence.

"It is clear that this spitting triggered these events that culminated in the affray but was not part of the affray."

Judge Stewart continued that Dappy's actions in resisting the headlock were understandable but the jury had found he had then swung one or two punches at Mr Jenkins once he had been released, meaning that he had participated in the affray.

He added: "Your culpability in the affray was considerably less than that of your co-defendants."

The judge added: "The sentence I have decided on is not affected by any consideration of whether a person is well-known to the public."

PA

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