Tuesday 24 April 2018

Mel B in 11th-hour split with legal team ahead of domestic violence trial

The trial between the former Spice Girl and Stephen Belafonte was due to start on Monday, but it is thought this has been thrown into jeopardy.

Mel B
Mel B

By Sam Blewett, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

Mel B and her legal team have parted ways just days before her domestic violence trial against her estranged husband was due to begin.

The trial between the former Spice Girl and Stephen Belafonte, as well as their former nanny Lorraine Gilles, was scheduled to start on Monday but it is believed this has been thrown into jeopardy by the 11th-hour move.

The Leeds-born singer, real name Melanie Brown, is seeking restraining orders against the pair at Los Angeles Superior Court as she fights a bitter divorce battle against Belafonte.

ipanews_0920693f-a34d-46dc-8deb-24ee1d167d03_embedded98854
Mel B and Stephen Belafonte

Sources close to Belafonte confirmed Brown would no longer be represented by high-profile lawyers Susan Wiesner and Larry Bakman, who have spent months preparing for the trial.

One source said: “Belafonte’s legal team were informed yesterday.”

It is not known whether it was Brown or the lawyers who severed the ties, or what is the cause of the split.

The office of Osuna & Dotson Law Firm confirmed they had taken on Brown as a client for the trial but are yet to comment further.

A spokeswoman for the court said it has not yet been made aware of the move and was expecting the trial to go ahead as scheduled.

ipanews_0920693f-a34d-46dc-8deb-24ee1d167d03_embedded98855

But it is thought Brown’s new firm plan to ask Judge Mark Juhas for the trial to be put back, likely to be a cause for frustration as this comes after repeated delays.

Brown and Belafonte, both 42, married in Las Vegas in June 2007.

But Brown, now a judge on America’s Got Talent, filed for divorce in March this year citing “irreconcilable differences” and detailing allegations of domestic abuse.

The mother of three has claimed Belafonte tormented her with years of physical and mental abuse and the court has been told she alleges he drugged her through much of their relationship.

He has denied the allegations and in turn claimed her “habitual and consistent addiction” to cocaine and alcohol was a major issue in their marriage.

The court has also been told that Brown led an “extravagant” lifestyle and had “wiped out” her 50 million dollar (£38 million) Spice Girls fortune.

Ms Wiesner and Mr Bakman are yet to respond to requests to comment.

Press Association

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment