A man and a woman have been found guilty of verbally abusing a severely disabled man in Horsham, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. 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, the CPS said in a statement. This is a problem that he had experienced previously. As they stood there, Graham Sinclair and Cheryl Peterson, both 28 and from Birches Road, Horsham, yelled verbal abuse from a window, related to the man’s 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. At 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 victim’s 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.”