A quiz winner was left distressed when the man organising the contest sent her “ugly and despicable” transphobic abuse during an online spat.
Brian Griffiths had organised the competition for people to take part in during covid and initially engaged in a friendly exchange with the trans woman who scooped the prize. But when they went on to fall into disagreement, he called her a “freak” and “******* man”.
Newcastle Crown Court heard it was in March 2021 the victim met Griffiths on online platform Discord. Nicoleta Alistari, prosecuting, said their initial interaction was friendly and she provided her address to receive her quiz prize.
Miss Alistari said: “In a different conversation on another date he made comments which she thought were transphobic and she blocked him and told some people what happened. He sent her numerous offensive and threatening messages, including threatening violence.” Among the things he said was calling her a “freak” adding: “You’re a ******* man you ******* idiot”.
The victim, who felt “targeted and intimidated”, said: “He had no respect for me and continued to be abusive to me. The transphobic comments caused a great deal of anxiety and distress.
“This has made me constantly question when I hear noises outside at night in case he comes to my address to carry out the threats. The messages have distressed me and I’m hiding away from the world.”
Griffiths pleaded guilty to sending malicious communications and also admitted blackmailing a woman who he claimed owed him £4,000, saying he would arrange for her car to be removed by “informal lenders” if she didn’t pay him. The victim said: “The incident has made me feel unsafe and put me and my family through a lot of stress and upset.
“Over the last three years I feared being out in public in case he or his friends or family abuse me. I would like Brian to know his actions have had a hugely negative impact on our lives.
“The way he acted continues to cause us distress and fear. I hope, one day, to get relief and peace.”
Griffiths, 35, of Rose Street, Sunderland, who has 31 previous convictions, was sentenced to 41 weeks suspended for 18 months by Recorder Caroline Sellars. He was also given a restraining order.
The judge said he was on bail for the blackmail when he sent the transphobic messages, adding: “It was an ugly and despicable form of words you used.” She accepted he was not generally transphobic but had used the insults in the heat of the argument.
David Callan, defending, said: “He says he is not transphobic, this was an argument between people who had never met.” Mr Callan said that during the argument he had used “transphobic insults”, adding: ” He was under stress, it was in the middle of covid and he was isolated. He very much regrets it.”
Mr Callan said Griffiths is now married with a young child and has been having counselling for his ADHD to try to control his emotions.