Couple guilty of disability hate crime in Horsham

16/08/2017

A man and a woman have been found guilty of verbally abusing a severely disabled man in Horsham.

The victim cannot walk unaided and needs crutches and a mobility scooter to get around. In January 2017, he was with a friend and they went shopping, but when they returned home, a car was blocking his way and he could not get by in his scooter. This is a problem that he had experienced previously.

As they stood there, Graham Sinclair (28) and Cheryl Peterson (28), both from Birches Road, Horsham, yelled verbal abuse from a window, related to the manís disability and claimed he was not disabled. The victim did not know the couple. Following the incident, a number of people came to check on the victim.

Following a trial at Horsham Magistrates' Court, the couple were both found guilty of a public order offence, although they were acquitted of two other charges of assault by battery. Sinclair was fined £450, while Peterson was fined £120. Both were ordered to pay £300 in costs. The fines were increased due to the fact that they had shouted abuse about the victim's disability.

David Packer, from the CPS, said: "The language used in this case was foul and abusive and made clear reference to the victimís disabilities. This level of hostility made it a disability hate crime, which meant the perpetrators in this case received a larger fine than they would otherwise have done.

"Put simply, the criminal justice system will not tolerate crimes of this nature and anyone responsible for a hate crime, be it on grounds of disability, religion, race, age or sexual orientation needs to understand that."

Tackling hate crime is one of the priorities for CPS South East, which serves Kent, Surrey and Sussex and we aim to promote successful convictions on hate crimes. More information about the work we are doing to tackle hate crime, including other convictions, can be found on our website.