Saturday, 19 December 2015
Cheryl’s trial takes place at Kingston Crown Court. The ingénue's entire showbiz career is in the balance. Everything hinges on whether her leathering of Sophie Amogbokpa can be classed as simple assault or racially-aggravated assault, or the difference between "a fucking bitch" or "a fucking black bitch”, as the wronged party would have it. Nicola’s quite happy to lie on her friend’s behalf to ensure that the racially-aggravated charge won’t stick, and Cheryl’s demeanour in the stand is a presentation of wounded-animal-blinking-before-the-headlights-of-the-institutional-juggernaut, her get-up invariably the virginal white trouser suit with its happy connotations of virtue in peril. There’s a surfeit of eye contact with the jury and the tone of repentance is stuck to throughout, with Cheryl’s lengthy resumé of stagecraft standing her in good stead for the performance required. That experience duly pays off when the jury decides there’s insufficient evidence to send her down on the racism charge. Judge Richard Haworth tells them he'd accept a majority verdict and the jurors decide by 11 to one that she’s guilty of assault, with a unanimous not guilty verdict on the racial assault charge. The Judge said: "This was an unpleasant piece of drunken violence which caused Sophie Amogbokpa pain and suffering. Her eye was painful for three or four weeks, there was bruising for three months and for a while she had blurred vision. You showed no remorse whatsoever." Cheryl’s sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community service and must also pay her victim £500 compensation, along with £3,000 of prosecution costs. The message to fans on her website captures her euphoria perfectly: ”thank U so much 4 everything. I really appreciate it: loadsa love hugs and kisses”.