Increased sentences for Brackla disability hate crime perpetrators

01/07/2015

Two men who abused and insulted a disabled man have been sentenced at Bridgend Magistrates’ Court.

Daniel Warren pleaded guilty to being threatening, abusive and insulting to Nathan Hocking. Luke Thomas was convicted of the same offence and assault after a trial at Bridgend Magistrates' Court.

The incident took place outside a pub in Brackla, near Bridgend last November where Mr Hocking, who is a wheelchair user, was waiting for his sister. A group of men, including the two defendants, shouted insults and suggested that Mr Hocking could walk. Luke Thomas also attempted to pull Mr Hocking out of his wheelchair. During the incident, the defendants referred to Simon Green, a local disability rights campaigner who has been vocal in highlighting how the disabled community can be singled out for physical and verbal abuse.

At sentencing, an application to increase the sentences was made on the basis that defendants' hostility toward Mr Hocking was motivated by his disability. This was accepted by the court - Warren was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment and Thomas to 28 weeks.

District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Cymru-Wales, Andrew Fouracre, said: "Luke Thomas and Daniel Warren targeted Nathan Hocking as a direct result of his disability. Their despicable conduct left him feeling vulnerable and frightened. Both men were drunk and extremely abusive toward Nathan. They harassed and intimidated him - and the court found that Luke Thomas went further in slapping him and trying to pull him out of his wheelchair.

"I am pleased that our application for a Section 146 sentencing uplift was granted in this case. In imposing immediate custodial sentences for both defendants, the Judge clearly took the same dim view of their conduct as the prosecuting team did."

Disability rights campaigner Simon Green added: "This case proves that when everyone works together victims of disability hate crime can get justice and perpetrators can be properly punished.

"Being verbally abused in the street and harassed, simply because you have a disability, is horrific and upsetting and can take a long time to get over - often it stays with you forever. I cannot praise Nathan and his family highly enough for the bravery they showed.

"Although I was not the direct victim it had a big effect on me: it occurred in my home town of Bridgend, my name was used continuously during the incident and it is possible that Nathan was mistaken for me, or it was a revenge attack on a random disabled person as the work I have done in the past to raise awareness about hate crime is not welcomed by all.

"The case shows that police and the CPS do take things seriously and that even if direct derogatory words are not used if it's clear that the motivation behind an attack is someone's disability it can be taken to court and result in prosecutions."