A transgender woman who threatened a man with a claw hammer has been spared jail after a judge was uncertain whether to send her to a male or female prison.
Leila Le Fey, 40, had pleaded guilty to common assault and possession of an offensive weapon after trying to steal wine from a Budgens in Brighton.
Also known as Layla Le Fey, Adam Hodgson, and Marcus Smith, the defendant was condemned by Judge Stephen Mooney for her ‘inexcusable’ behaviour.
He initially sentenced her to six months in jail, but her lawyers argued she would be forced to go to an all-male prison after the transgender woman failed to present a Gender Recognition Certificate.
When court staff then refused to confirm Le Fey’s gender through an ‘undignified examination’, the judge reversed his decision and handed her a six-month suspended sentence.
Leila Le Fey (pictured leaving Lewes Crown Court) had pleaded guilty to common assault and possession of an offensive weapon after trying to steal wine from a Budgens in Brighton
It is not known when Le Fey transitioned or if she has undergone any sex reassignment surgery.
But defending, Rebecca Upton said Le Fey did not have certified evidence of her gender reassignment and would have to go to the male-only Lewes Prison.
She could not be kept in solitary confinement there, and would be vulnerable in a male-only prison, Ms Upton argued at Lewes Crown Court.
The experience of prison life for transgender convicts
As the number of male prisoners now identifying as transgender is reported to have risen to 1,500 out of 90,000, according to the official jails watchdog, MailOnline takes a look at the experiences of prison life for self-assigned transgender convicts:
- Born a male, this rapist and paedophile was jailed for life after it emerged that she used a transgender persona to come close to vulnerable female prisoners before attacking them at New Hall prison in Wakefield;
- The Ministry of Justice was forced to apologise for its decision to jail White in a female prison, given his previous offending history.
- Thompson killed herself at HMP Leeds after complaining of ‘bullying’ in the all-male prison;
- She was put on suicide watch because of a long history of self-harm, as well as drug abuse;
- Once again, the Ministry of Justice apologised, as a spokesperson confirmed it would consider the findings of the inquest seriously.
- The 37-year-old, who changed their name in 2005, burgled ‘vulnerable’ people during a crime spree, and is expected to spend part of her two-year sentence in an all-male prison.
Recalling Le Fey to court an hour after his initial sentencing, Judge Mooney said: ‘Issues have now arisen. You have heard why in those circumstances I came to the conclusion that I had to send you to prison.
‘We live in a society which acknowledges and embraces diversity and allows and encourages people to live the life they want to.
‘Sometimes society does not make the necessary or appropriate adjustments in all ways it can to reflect the adjustments of society as a whole.’
He said although Le Fey had chosen to do wrong and could be punished by prison, she had no choice in the type of prison she went to.
‘There are circumstances where it can be regarded as disproportionate in a society that acknowledges diversity, but has a lack of resources otherwise to deal with it.
‘Having reflected again upon the impact an immediate custodial sentence would have, the difficulties there are and the intractable problems the prison service would face, I have reconsidered whether imprisonment must be immediate.
‘In light of this information I have come to the conclusion that in your particular case it allows me to hope for some form of rehabilitation.’
Le Fey had threatened store manager Enoch Adetayo with the claw hammer after entering store in an intoxicated state last November at 4am.
In a statement to police, Mr Adetayo said: ‘The woman pulled a claw hammer out from under her left armpit.
‘I believed she was going to hit me. I managed to grab it.’
Judge Mooney had told Le Fey: ‘You were caught in the act of taking some wine and confronted by Mr Adetayo who was perfectly within his rights to challenge you.
‘People who work in convenience stores offer a service to the community. They do so for little pay and deserve to be protected.
Defending, Rebecca Upton said Le Fey (pictured) did not have certified evidence of her gender reassignment and would have to go to the male-only Lewes Prison
Le Fey had threatened Budgens store manager Enoch Adetayo with the claw hammer after entering store in an intoxicated state last November (pictured, Ruislip store)
‘There is no excuse whatsoever for what you decided to do.’
Le Fey has a substantial number of previous convictions for over 50 offences, including three offences for brandishing a bladed article in public.
She was also accused of having a ‘sheer relentless pattern of offending’ from 2005, 2008, and 2012, including convictions for shoplifting and low-level violence.
Ms Upton argued that Le Fey’s November offence came as she relapsed last year, following a long battle with drink and drug addictions.
‘She is in the grip of addiction again now,’ Ms Upton hastened to add.
Le Fey, of Providence Place, Brighton, admitted common assault and possession of an offensive weapon. She was given a six-month suspended sentence.
The defendant was also ordered to complete 30 rehabilitation sessions.
Judge Stephen Mooney: The man who jailed Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr’s brother after he threatened to murder and rape two ‘super fans’
Judge Stephen Moonee (pictured), who was appointed to the Circuit last year
- Stephen Mooney was appointed to Circuit Judge last year, jailing Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr’s brother for nine years for his threats to murder and rape two ‘super fans’ during a long-running stalking campaign.
- Paul Kerr was behind a long-running stalking campaign targeting John and Julie Fagan, accusing Mr Fagan of sexually abusing young boy patients.
- Kerr also harassed his former partner Elisabeth Vanthof, accusing her of making a false rape allegation against him and stealing from him and wrote to her employer to try to get her sacked.
- Judge Mooney said that the ‘persistent abuse’, which started exactly two years ago, was in response to an innocent Facebook post about Scottish band Simple Minds by Mr Fagan, adding: ‘Your response to that post was relentless, cruel and to both Mr and Mrs Fagan life-altering.
- ‘You made threats towards them and persistently accused Mr Fagan of committing the most evil of offences against children.
- ‘You sought to justify your behaviour and portrayed yourself as a victim and suggested that it was the Fagans who were pursuing you.’