In The South

Brighton man sentenced over transphobic hate crime

Besi Besemar July 20, 2016

Sentence extended due to the transgender factor of the crime.


A Brighton man pleaded guilty to a transphobic public order offence, after targeting his victim on two separate occasions.

Matthew Sullivan, 35, of Ladysmith Road, appeared before Brighton Magistrates on July 6 charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He was ordered to undertake 55 hours of unpaid work as well as paying a total of £210, which includes costs and the Victim Surcharge, which helps fund victim support services. His sentence was increased due to the transgender factor in his offending..

Sullivan, was arrested following two incidents where he had verbally abused Sian at businesses in Lewes Road, Brighton, on, February 19 this year and November 25 last year.

She was shopping in Sainsburys on the first occasion, and Shabitat on the second occasion, when Sullivan who is a stranger to her, subjected her to the abuse.

These incidents are not the first in which Sian, who is in her thirties and lives Brighton, has experienced transphobic hostility from strangers in the city.

She said: “I started to notice I wasn’t confident going out. I started to question my life. Would I ever be accepted?”

“Following the court case I feel like this has been resolved and I feel more hopeful and confident to deal with a similar situation in the future.

“The crime had a major negative effect on my mental health and well-being, so although the punishment feels lenient, I am glad he is doing community service.

“The support from the LGBT police team was invaluable and really reassuring on the day”.

PC Sarah Laker
PC Sarah Laker

PC Sarah Laker, of Brighton and Hove’s LGBT Police team, added: “We are delighted that Sullivan has been convicted of these offences against Sian and that the court imposed an increased sentence because of the transphobic nature of the offences.

“We gave additional support to Sian as the investigation was progressing to reassure her that we take transphobic hate crime very seriously and to help colleagues understand the transgender aspect of the crime. The support of the LGBT team also included accompanying Sian to court on the day of the trial.”

“Sian was provided with screens at court so that she would not have to see the defendant when giving her evidence at the trial. However, on the day itself, Sullivan pleaded guilty so neither Sian nor the witnesses were required to give evidence.

“It can take bravery to come forward and make a report to the police, and even more so the need for patience with the investigation and it’s progression through to court. We hope her positive experience will encourage others to come forward.

“The police will always be compassionate and professional when dealing with victims. Not all victims want their case to go to court, some may prefer a restorative outcome. We will always take the victims’ wishes into consideration.

“Our hope is that this case will encourage other victims of hate crime to report such behaviour to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

For those wishing to make a report online, click here: