Two people involved in the brutal murder of a disabled man who was imprisoned and tortured to death have had their sentences increased by the court of appeal. Julie Mills and Nicole Lawrence were originally sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court last year after being convicted of involvement in the death of Lee Irving. He had been repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on by James Wheatley, in attacks that took place over nine days, leaving him with multiple broken bones and other injuries. After he died, his body was taken on a pushchair through a housing estate and dumped on a patch of grass near the A1 in Kenton Bar, Newcastle. The court of appeal decided this week that the prison sentences of eight years and four years handed to Mills and Lawrence were too low, and resentenced Mills, Wheatley’s mother, to 10 years in prison, and Lawrence, his girlfriend, to seven years. Wheatley did not have his life sentence for murder – of which he will serve at least 23 years – challenged, while the
A chief constable has insisted that his police force was right not to treat the brutal murder of a man with learning difficulties who was hung from a tree and beaten to death by two “friends” as a disability hate crime. Disabled campaigners had criticised the failings of Leicestershire police following the murder of 23-year-old Brendan Mason. It is now 10 years since the deaths of Francecca and Fiona Pilkington, which led to the same police force being heavily criticised by the police watchdog for failing to protect the Pilkington family from years of harassment, and failing to recognise those offences as disability hate crime. Brendan Mason was found with serious injuries in Abbey Park, Leicester, on the morning of 5 July last year, and died later that day in hospital. He had been lured to the park, stripped of his clothes and hung from a tree and subjected to what police called a “vicious, sustained attack”, which was filmed by his attackers on their mobile phones and lasted for several
The solicitor general has agreed to appeal the allegedly “unduly lenient” sentences handed down to three people jailed for offences connected with the murder of a disabled man who was imprisoned and tortured to death. But the solicitor general, the Tory MP Robert Buckland, has refused to appeal against the sentence handed to James Wheatley, the man who murdered 24-year-old Lee Irving. His decisions have caused further confusion about the law on sentencing disability hate crimes, and its application by the criminal justice system. Wheatley, 29, from Kenton Bar, Newcastle, repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on Irving in attacks that took place over nine days, leaving him with multiple broken bones and other injuries. After he died, his body was taken on a pushchair through a housing estate and dumped on a patch of grass near the A1. Wheatley was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, and will have to serve at least 23 years. But if the murder had been dealt with by
A judge has failed to treat the murder of a disabled man who was imprisoned and tortured to death by his killer as a disability hate crime, raising fresh concerns about flawed legislation that is supposed to ensure higher sentences for such offences. Newcastle Crown Court heard during an eight-week trial how James Wheatley, 29, of Studdon Walk, Kenton Bar, Newcastle, repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on Lee Irving in attacks that took place over nine days, leaving him with multiple broken bones and other injuries. Irving, 24, who had learning difficulties, thought Wheatley was his friend and was living in his house at the time of the attacks. But Wheatley and his co-defendants targeted Irving for his money and possessions, with Wheatley signing him up to online banking so he could empty his account. After the final attack that led to his death, Irving’s body was taken on a pushchair through a housing estate and dumped on a patch of grass near the A1. Gerry Wareham, chief crown
A police force already under investigation for disability hate crime failures when dealing with a young autistic man is now facing another complaint after officers ignored his family’s plea to investigate a second brutal attack. Daniel Smith was only finally able to clear his name last month after a six-month ordeal which saw him dragged through the criminal justice system by Northamptonshire police. He had been left bloodied and bruised after being subjected to a vicious hate crime in a local park while visiting his family in Rushden, Northamptonshire, but ended up being prosecuted for assault after Northants police refused to investigate the hate crime and charged him instead after he admitted striking the other man to try and defend himself. Smith spent nine hours in a police cell, without medical treatment for his injuries, even though he told officers he had just been defending himself against “the bullies”. He only managed to clear his name when he was cleared last month of the
Deplorable hate crimes against people with disabilities have risen by a shocking 213% since 2007/08, new figures reveal.
Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show there were 574 reported cases of disability hate crime in 2014, up from 183 in 2007/08.
A total of 4,000 cases of disability hate crime have been brought by the CPS since the offense was first introduced in 2007.
However, Stephen Brookes from the Disability Hate Crime Network said the worrying figure is likely to be much higher, because too many instances of disability hate crime or either not reported or are overlooked.
“I believe the number of people actually suffering is equivalent to the number who report religious and race hate crime each year – 60,000″, said Mr Brookes.
A new partnership initiative has been set up between the Metropolitan Police Service and Inclusion London
The Scottish government has described how it hopes to make the UN disability convention “a reality” for disabled people in Scotland.
A draft plan, published this week, includes more than 50 recommendations which it hopes will help Scotland implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The draft delivery plan for 2016-20 includes commitments on welfare reform, public transport, disability hate crime, housing, accessible design and access to justice.
The plan points out that disabled people in Scotland are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, while a total of 230,000 more adapted homes are needed.
The plan has been put out for consultation until 4 January 2016, with the final plan to be published next summer.
The document is deeply critical of the UK government’s welfare reforms, which it says are having a “disproportionate impact on the lives of disabled people”.
Among commitments is a promise to open the new Scottish Independent Living Fund – which is already open to former users of the Independent Living Fund – to new users.
On accessible housing, it says the SNP government will “consider in greater depth the issues raised by disabled people’s organisations about the availability of accessible housing”, while it will publish a guide to help architects design accessible buildings that “fully meet the needs of disabled people”.
The document also pledges to measure how NHS bodies in Scotland are “embracing equality, diversity and human rights”, and to abolish fees for employment tribunals that were introduced by the UK government in 2013.
The Scotland bill is due to transfer powers on social security for disabled people to the Scottish government, which promises a system that “treats people with dignity and respect during their time applying for, being assessed and receiving disability benefits”.
The Scottish government also promises to work with a local authority to develop a pilot project aimed at “preventing and removing disability hate crime from society”.
Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, chair of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition, said the draft plans were “a major milestone” and “a good starting point towards building a fairer Scotland for all disabled people”.
But he added: “There is a way yet to go before disabled people can enjoy their legal and moral rights of choice, control, dignity, and freedom.”
“As disabled people we know best the changes needed to remove the disabling barriers we experience.”
“We welcome these draft commitments and urge disabled people to seize this opportunity to have their say and to share with the Scottish government what needs to happen to make the rights we have on paper the reality we experience every day.”
John McArdle, co-founder of the Scottish-based grassroots campaigning organisation Black Triangle, also welcomed the document and said it was “very encouraging”.
Communities minister and SNP MSP Marco Biagi said: “At a time when the UK government is undermining the human rights of disabled people with its programme of austerity and welfare cuts, we are committed to furthering their rights and engaging a wider section of the population in the debate.
“We firmly believe that disabled people’s rights are human rights, and that human rights must apply to everyone.”
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities also published its own draft delivery plan, intended to complement the Scottish government’s version, with 30 actions of its own on issues such as social security, independent living, accessible transport, housing, education and employment.
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com