Singer Lisa Maffia, a member of Noughties UK hip hop group So Solid Crew, has been acquitted of assaulting a hairdresser who she treated “like a sister”.
Allegations that the 41-year-old scratched Rebekah Groves’ arms during a “fracas” at a salon in Tulse Hill, south London were dismissed by magistrates on Friday.
Croydon Magistrates’ Court heard that Maffia had attended the salon in May last year to ask for the return of several sets of hot comb hair straighteners which Ms Groves had been selling on her behalf.
When she arrived there had been two other women in the shop, a friend of Ms Groves and a woman she did not know.
James Tucker, prosecuting, said Ms Groves had been “backed into a corner” of the shop and Maffia and the unidentified woman had “attempted to grab her phone” as she tried to call the police.
The 21 Seconds singer, dressed in a white shirt and black jacket, was visibly upset throughout the proceedings and was supported by a friend in court.
The court heard that Maffia had invited Ms Groves on tour with her and on holiday, and had offered to support her financially after becoming a client at the salon.
“After a few appointments (Ms Groves) shared some things about her private life…like a sister, having a shoulder to lean on,” Maffia said.
Maffia told the court she had arranged to pick up the hot combs from the shop but had lost contact with Ms Groves.
She said she had entered the shop alone and that Ms Groves had become irate and “verbally aggressive” towards her.
“I asked Rebekah why she blocked me and she was straightaway hostile and I knew she didn’t want to speak to her,” she said.
“She was acting like something I’d never seen, I could see she was angry and there was a lot going on.
“I just wanted to get out.
“She was throwing things…she had a hot comb that she was doing the lady’s hair with and charged at me.”
Maffia rejected suggestions by Mr Tucker that she had “badly overreacted and got involved with an emotional outburst that became violent”.
She said that, following the incident, Ms Groves had posted defamatory remarks about her on social media “to gain popularity”.
Joseph Carr, defending, said that although Ms Groves denied she used social media frequently she had told the court she had over 8,000 followers on Instagram.
Juanita Phillips, witness for the defence, said that Ms Groves had told her that she intended to “take (Maffia) to the cleaners” following the incident.
“She was talking about how far the story had reached – ‘I’m going to ‘take her to the cleaners on this’,” she said.
“’Everyone wants to know my story’, ‘I’m going to take her to all the blogs’. She said Loose Women.
“Even the caption of ‘my celebrity client’, it was already a headline.”
Delivering the verdict, bench chairman David Taylor said that there had been no evidence that Maffia had been involved in an assault.
He said Maffia’s evidence, “though emotional”, had been “credible and believable” and that evidence given by Ms Groves had been “vague and inconsistent”.