N-Dubz rapper avoids jail over affray
N-Dubz singer Costadinos Contostavlos, aka Dappy, leaves Guildford Crown court after being given a six-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of two offences, including affray, following a trial last month. Photograph: Getty
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 (€5,200) 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 27th 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 whisky, 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 28th, 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, made 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 Ms Cochran and Ms Burton were “unreliable witnesses” as they had sent Twitter and BlackBerry (BBM) messages saying they intended to sell their stories to the national newspapers.
Ms 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.”
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.”