A transgender woman and her female friend who started a brawl in a nightclub during a girlie night out have been spared jail after claiming one of them had fallen victim to ‘transphobic abuse’ in the run up to the fight.
Rhi Grugel, 20, who went public about coming out as trans when she was at an all-boys school, lost her temper when she and best friend Armani McShane, 18, allegedly overheard ‘laughter and comments’ coming from a group of strangers sitting in a neighbouring booth.
Believing the group were talking about them, McShane who was dressed in a pink Juicy Couture tracksuit got up and started dancing near to the group’s booth before leaning over and saying: ‘Tell that s**g to wind her neck in.’
She then began throwing plastic drink glasses at the table before slapping one of the group in the face and kicking him.
Rhi Grugel, 20, went public about coming out as trans when she was at an all-boys school. She said she thought she overheard the group making transphobic comments
Armani McShane began throwing plastic drink glasses at the table before slapping one of the group in the face and kicking him
Grugel who was sporting a little black dress and a blazer was then said to have jumped over in to their booth and started slapping and hitting members of the group. McShane then joined in before picking up a glass candle holder and throwing it into the crowd.
The candle holder hit one of the group to her head, causing a cut requiring hospital treatment and left her with a scar. During the melee McShane also picked up a bar stool and threw it at someone else before Grugel dragged another woman to the floor by her hair.
The pair were eventually ejected by bouncers at Modo nightclub in Liverpool.. Both later claimed they ‘perceived’ to have been the subject of transphobic abuse. The victims denied making any comments and said they were ‘minding their own business’ inside the club.
At Wirral magistrates court, Grugel and McShane both from Liverpool, admitted affray.
Grugel who had previously featured in LGBTQIA+ podcasts about her coming out as trans at an all-boys school and criticising a ‘lack of help’ for young trans people was sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work.
McShane was sentenced to 18 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, and made to do 20 days of rehabilitative activity.
They were each ordered to pay compensation of £50 to Lewis Rourke ‘who was punched in the face’, £75 to Lucy Alcock ‘for pulling her hair and bruising’ and £150 to Amy Hughes ‘for the cut to her face from a glass candle holder and having her hair pulled’. They were also both ordered to pay £248 in costs and victim surcharge. The offece of affray fetches a maxium sentence of three years in jail.
The incident occurred on November 30 last year after the women had been on a night out together in Liverpool city centre.
Lionel Cope, prosecuting, told the court of how the two women sat in a booth next to a group of friends who were just enjoying a night out together, ‘chatting and laughing with each other’.
‘Ms McShane was said to have got up and started dancing near to the booths.. She then leaned over to one of the friends and said: ‘Tell that s**g to wind her neck in’, meaning Lucy Alcock.
Rhi Grugel was sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work
‘They did not know why she would say that that. They said they were just minding their own business. Ms McShane who seen to be wearing a pink Juicy tracksuit, and Ms Grugel was wearing a black dress and blazer. Two of Ms Alcock’s friends then stood up as it looked like the defendant were trying to get at Ms Alcock. Ms McShane then grabbed Ms Alcock’s hair and then pulled it.
‘The doorman went over to them and asked the defendants to leave but they said they had done nothing wrong. Ms McShane then began throwing plastic drink glasses at the table. Lewis Rourke stood up and asked her to stop but Ms McShane slapped him to the face and kicked him.
‘Ms Grugel was then said to have jumped over in to their booth and started slapping and hitting people. Ms McShane then joined in before picking up a glass candle holder and throwing it into the crowd. The candle holder hit Ms Hughes to her head, causing a cut requiring hospital treatment.
‘Ms McShane then picked up a stool and threw it at an unknown male. She then tried to throw another stool but was prevented. Ms Grugel dragged Ms Alcock to the floor by her hair. After Ms Alcock managed to get back up, she was pulled back to the floor by Ms McShane.
‘A witness who was sitting at the bar heard screaming and saw the defendants attacking the group. Both were restrained and taken out of Modo. Ms McShane ran back to the group but was then taken back out and detained until police arrived.’
In mitigation for McShane, defence lawyer Eileen Chisnall said her client showed: ‘genuine remorse’ and stressed she was only 17 at the time of the offence. For Grugel, defence solicitor Quentin Neal, said his client was also ‘genuinely remorseful’ and said she 19 at the time and added: ‘There was a perception on her part of receiving transphobic abuse’.
Armani McShane was sentenced to 18 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, and made to do 20 days of rehabilitative activity
Both women had no previous convictions.
Sentencing the pair chair of the bench Rose Egan said: ‘This was an extremely nasty and prolonged incident. I have to say you could have ended up going to prison today. As it is you have certainly lost your good character.
‘You were previously of good character. You now do not have that. You now have a criminal record. That will stay with you for life now as a result of this incident.
‘We feel that you were both jointly liable. One started it but you were both responsible for persisting in the violent attack on those victims.
‘We believe that the custody threshold was crossed. There was the use of a weapon, and there is the prolonged nature of the attack causing injury to three separate victims, one of whom will have facial scarring as a result.
‘However, we also recognise that there are mitigating factors for both of you. It was your first incident and it was an isolated incident and you have both shown remorse since the offence.
‘We have decided we are not going to sentence you to immediate custody today.’
Mrs Egan added: ‘If you get into trouble of any sort in the next 12 months, you can be brought back to court and taken straight to prison. So do not get into trouble of any sort. If you find people making comments, walk away. Do not get into a situation like this ever again.’