The front entrance of Cardiff Magistrate's Court
The front entrance of Cardiff Magistrate's Court. Image: Poppy Atkinson Gibson

Rugby captain punched by female partygoer as birthday bash in clubhouse turned nasty

Woman who was ‘trying to make trouble’ left Dinas Powys back row with a black eye, court told

A BIRTHDAY party at Dinas Powys Rugby Club ended in ugly scenes when a female partygoer punched the first team captain after hurling foul-mouthed abuse at him, a court heard.

Laura Grant, 35, threw a single punch at Joshua Dunleavy – who plays in the back row – after threatening to “stab you and your missus”, Cardiff magistrates were told.

Grant –  who has had to have facial surgery after being struck with a gin glass during the incident – admitted assault following the night of violence on May 14, 2022.

Mr Dunleavy and his wife were attending a friend’s birthday party at the rugby club when Mr Dunleavy was verbally abused by Grant, who prosecutor Sophie Pennifold, said was “trying to make trouble”.

Ms Pennifold told the court how bystanders described the birthday party atmosphere as “intimidating and aggressive”. Many were intoxicated, she added.

It was amid this atmosphere that Grant, of Caerleon Road, Dinas Powys, threatened Mr Dunleavy, saying that she would “stab you and stab your missus” as well as shouting insults that included calling him a “fat, ginger ****” the court heard.

CCTV footage of the incident, viewed by magistrates, showed how Grant followed Mr Dunleavy around the club and continued to shout at him as he tried to leave with his wife. She then hit him, the court heard. In the moments that followed, Grant was struck in the face with a gin glass and suffered a cut above her right eye. She has since had two operations to “put her face back together”, according to her representative.

Ms Pennifold told the court that Mr Dunleavy now feels “unsettled walking in the community I’ve lived in my whole life” and added that he no longer feels comfortable in the rugby club, which he described as having been his “safe space”.

In response, Grant’s defence solicitor Jon Lewis questioned the level of distress felt by Mr Dunleavy who, Ms Grant claims, purposefully walks down her street and loiters near her home. He pointed out that “one inch lower and the defendant would have probably lost the use of her right eye”.

Mr Lewis told the court that Grant has had time off work as a clinic co-ordinator in the maternity department of the University Hospital of Wales where the mother of three had worked two days a week for the past 18 years. She has also suffered significant physical and mental scarring, he added.

Mr Lewis stated that his client no longer wants to take her children to school and has “become a recluse because of her appearance” and is receiving counselling.

Mr Lewis asked the chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Nihan Ramadan, to act with charity.

Laura Grant was fined a total of £348 with £100 to be paid in compensation to Mr Dunleavy.

The court heard that a woman is due to appear in court charged with wounding in relation to the gin glass incident.