A MAN who repeatedly punched and spat at a transgender woman outside her own home has been jailed.

Neil Junior Cleal pleaded guilty to ABH, criminal damage and assaulting an emergency worker at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on March 26.

The court heard that at around 9pm on July 21 last year, the 25-year-old approached a woman in her 50’s in Ludlow Road while shouting abuse at her, specifically about her gender identity.

Cleal then proceeded to kick down her front gate and walk up to the woman, and spit in her face before punching her several times to the head causing her to fall backwards.

The incident left her in significant pain.

A second incident happened on Wednesday, March 24 this year,when Cleal approached three PCSO’s on patrol in St Mary’s Street and started shouting abuse at them.

Cleal then walked up to one of the PCSOs and pushed him in the arm while making threats towards him.

On Friday, April 16, Cleal, of Victoria Road, Southampton, was jailed for a total of 19 months and two weeks at Southampton Crown Court.

PC Tony Godfrey from the Southampton East Neighbourhood Team said: “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 www.report-it.org.uk.”