Thug jailed after spitting in trans woman’s face during thick of the pandemic

Mugshot of Neil Cleal

A man who, in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic last year, spat on a trans woman’s face has been jailed for 19 months and two weeks.

In the Southhampton, England, attack described by authorities as “abhorrent”, Neil Cleal lobbed anti-trans abuse at a trans woman in her 50s on 21 July 2020.

Cleal kicked her front gate down on Ludlow Road and beelined towards her, spitting on her face before punching her in the head. The victim tumbled to the ground and was left in significant pain, Hampshire Constabulary said in a news release.

And in a separate incident months earlier on 24 March, the 25-year-old assaulted a police community support officer along Victoria Road.

He accosted three officers patrolling St Mary’s Street, pushing one in the arm while threatening him.

Cleal was jailed Friday (16 April) at the Southampton Crown Court and will serve 16 months for assaulting a trans woman as well as 14 weeks for assaulting the officer.

He pleaded guilty at the Southampton Magistrates’ Court for actual bodily harm, criminal damage and assaulting an emergency worker on 26 March.

Southampton East Neighbourhood Team police constable Tony Godfrey said in a statement: “The assault on the woman in Ludlow Road was abhorrent and totally unprovoked.

“Targeting someone because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, or a misguided perception is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“I would like to commend the woman’s bravery and courage in coming forward and reporting what happened to her.

“I would also like to thank the members of public who responded to our witness appeal with information that led to the identification of Cleal, the man responsible for this assault.

“We encourage anyone who suffers hate crime, or receives a serious threat against them to report it to the police, either by calling 101 (999 in an emergency) or online through the True Vision website at”