Pair jailed for transphobic hate crime - Aylesbury

18/04/2017

A teenage boy and a man appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court today, Tuesday, 18 April 2017, and were sentenced for their part in a hate crime during which a transgender man was attacked in Aylesbury last July.

Owen Wise, aged 17, of Kingham Court, New Street, Aylesbury, pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to five years and 10 months imprisonment. He can be named after the Judge decided to lift reporting restrictions. This sentence included a six-month uplift for the hate-fuelled nature of the offence. The Judge praised Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advocate Nigel Ogborne for his assistance in ensuring that Wise's sentence was extended.

Michael Thorpe, aged 21, of Beech Green, Aylesbury, pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.

At about 10pm on 25 July 2016, the victim, a 40-year-old-man, was walking home along Hannon Road, Aylesbury when he was approached by a group of males, verbally abused for being transgender, assaulted and had his wallet and mobile phone stolen. He was taken, by ambulance, to hospital with serious injuries including a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain, a broken nose and a puncture wound to his left cheek.

Kaviraj Choolun, Senior Crown Prosecutor from Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the robbery of a 40-year-old transgender man, motivated by hate, which resulted in horrendous, long-lasting, injuries.

"Owen Wise was aged just 16 at the time of the robbery and was the ring leader of those involved. He pleaded guilty to robbery, but denied targeting the victim due to vulnerability and claimed to have only hit him once. He is clearly an extremely violent and dangerous individual. Michael Thorpe did not use any violence during the incident, but was part of the group when the robbery took place and the group used hate as a motive. He admitted to stealing the victim's mobile phone during the robbery and pleaded guilty to theft.

"From the outset, the CPS said this offence was a hate crime aggravated by transphobic hostility and persisted in prosecuting it as a hate crime, despite the victim being unable to give evidence, even via video link, due to the dreadful physical and psychological effects resulting from his head injury. At the subsequent Newton Hearing (trial of issue for Wise) on 14 March 2017, Nigel Ogborne, prosecution counsel, applied to adduce the evidence of the victim under the hearsay provisions. The Judge agreed with the application and the victim's statement was read to the court. The Judge subsequently found in favour of the prosecution and determined that the cruel attack was, indeed, a hate crime, enabling the sentence uplift to be applied at sentencing.

"Tackling hate crime is a priority for the CPS and anyone involved in hate crime can expect to be prosecuted robustly and have their sentences increased. The convictions and today's sentences serve as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these that they should come forward. We will continue to work closely with our partners, as we did with Thames Valley police in this case, to ensure that persons involved in this kind of criminality are brought to justice.

"We know that nothing can undo what happened to the victim, but we hope that the convictions and today's sentences bring him at least a small sense that justice has been done. We also hope that the victim, who has shown great courage throughout this process, continues with his recovery. Our thoughts are very much with him at this time."

Investigating officer Detective Constable Bruce Wilson, of Aylesbury Local CID, said: "This was an appalling unprovoked attack against a man, due to his transgender status and was motivated by hate.

"This incident had a significant and long lasting impact upon the victim - not just physically, but emotionally.

"Hate crimes are motivated by hostility, prejudice or hatred towards someone's actual or perceived race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

"A hate incident becomes a hate crime when a criminal offence has been committed. Hate incidents may or may not be a criminal offence, but it doesn't matter if you're not sure; please report them to the police.

"We take all reports of hate incidents extremely seriously, and will listen to you and deal with you sensitively."