A vegan activist who was found guilty of spitting at a woman wearing a fur trimmed coat has lost her appeal against the conviction.
Dylan Roffey, 24, was found guilty in September of spitting at Rhiannon Boyle at Brighton Station on 5 January.
Later that month, she was also convicted of causing criminal damage at McDonald’s by throwing fake blood made of flour, water and red vegan food dye over the floors and walls.
Roffey appealed the spitting conviction, arguing that the spittle landed on Miss Boyle’s face accidentally – but at today’s hearing, both Miss Boyle and her friend Helen Mitchell maintained it was done deliberately.
And a panel of Judge Shani Barnes and magistrates Mrs L Brynin and Mrs D Hurrell agreed with them, dismissing the appeal.
This morning at Brighton Crown Court, Miss Boyle said she and her friend Helen Mitchell had been sitting on the concourse outside M&S when Roffey approached them.
She walked over with a smile on her face, and then asked Miss Boyle if she knew the trim on her coat hood was made of dog fur.
Miss Boyle said she had tried not to engage, but she said Roffey became increasingly heated, calling her a “nasty piece of shit,” adding: “You could hear the venom when she said that.”
At this point, her friend Helen Mitchell intervened to say that was unacceptable and asking her what she aimed to achieve.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, Miss Boyle said: “Miss Roffey then directed her attention back to me, inhaled as if to get a mouthful of saliva, lent forward and then she spat at me.
“She then turned and sprinted towards the station exit.
“I turned to Helen and said God, she’s just spat at me. Helen pulled tissues out of her bag, we cleaned it off and then we thought we should report it to the police.”
Helen Mitchell said: “It was a lot of spit. I don’t know a measurement but I would say a cupful. It was all sort of globbed together in Miss Boyle’s hair – she had long hair at the time – and in her coat and jumper. We used quite a few tissues.”
Asking questions on Roffey’s behalf, Audrey Mogan asked both women if they had made up the spitting because they were embarrassed and angry at being publicly confronted in public on a busy Saturday.
Both women denied this, and Miss Mitchell added: “I believe in free speech and I would never fabricate an incident like this.
“I don’t disagree with Miss Roffey’s values – the animal rights argument. I just absolutely disagree with the method of spitting on someone.”
Roffey told the court that after becoming vegan four years ago, she had become increasingly involved in animal rights, and often stopped people she saw wearing fur.
However, she denied calling Miss Boyle a nasty piece of shit or spitting at her.
She said: “I have had every reaction under the sun – sometimes positive, sometimes apathetic, sometimes aggressive . . . [Miss Boyle was] surprised and uncomfortable and quickly got quite angry about it.
“I was told quite quickly that just by talking to her I was violating her human rights.”
Appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service, Sophie Evans asked Roffey about the McDonald’s incident, saying: “You’re not afraid to break the law to get your views across, are you?”
Roffey answered: “I certainly believe in doing what’s right as best I can. Everything I do is for the sake of justice.
“I have certainly not done anything violent . . . I prioritise doing what I think is right.”
After the September 2 conviction at Brighton Magistrates Court, Roffey was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay £500 in court costs, £150 compensation to Ms Boyle and an £85 victim surcharge.
This was reduced today to a conditional discharge, as Roffey has already completed the unpaid work.
For the criminal damage, she was sentenced to another 60 hours of unpaid work, plus £50 compensation to McDonald’s, costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £85.
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