A man who kicked away the crutches from a disabled teenager on his way to school and later racially abused staff in a mobile phone store has been jailed.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Michael Cain, 32, assaulted the 15-year-old boy near Liverpool city centre on 20 April around 10am.
The boy was walking to a revision session at his school and was using crutches due to a lifelong, diagnosed medical condition.
He noticed that Cain was staring at him but didn’t want to engage with him in conversation. Cain then went up to him and shouted, “You don’t need crutches…you’re faking it.”
He then kicked one of the boy’s crutches away and continued to threaten him with violence. The boy stumbled and then fell to the floor. Luckily a passer-by intervened and Cain made off.
The incident has left him badly shaken up and fearful of travelling to school alone. He couldn’t understand why someone had targeted him because of his disability. The police issued CCTV of Cain that they’d discovered following the victim’s description and issued a press appeal.
On 24 May 2022 around 2.40pm, Cain entered the O2 store on Church Street in Liverpool city centre, with an issue with his mobile phone.
The issue was dealt with but Cain seemed agitated and aggressive. He was asked to leave the store but started to hurl racist abuse at the staff member who fixed his phone.
He then threw more racist insults at another staff member who came to see what was happening. He lunged at the second woman and tried to assault her. He left the store but then came back and threw a drink at a display of electrical items, causing a lot of damage.
Staff at the O2 store had the details from Cain’s phone and traced him. He’d posted a video of himself throwing the drink into the store.
Cain was identified and arrested. He was charged with two counts of criminal damage, two counts of racially aggravated intentional harassment and one count of assault.
He pleaded guilty at his first appearance at Liverpool Magistrates Court. On 22 November 2022, at Sefton Magistrates Court, he was jailed for 28 weeks and must pay £100 in compensation. He has also been banned from entering the O2 store for 12 months.
District Crown Prosecutor Mike Lloyd, Hate Crime lead for CPS Mersey Cheshire, said, “Michael Cain is a racist, violent thug who attacked a vulnerable boy and then went on to insult two people who were just doing their job.
“The boy was left badly shaken up by the incident and his ability to maintain his independence has been jeopardised by what happened.
“Despite this, he has supported the prosecution throughout. The Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank him and his family for their support.
“Staff at the 02 store have also played their part in bringing this case. They had tried to help Cain but he was intent on ridiculing them and causing damage. He is now in jail, responsible for what we describe as Hate Crime.
“The CPS successfully applied for the sentences for these crimes to be uplifted because the motivation was hate…hate because of the victims’ skin colour and hate because of the other victim’s physical condition. This type of offending is particularly insidious, and the CPS works hard with the police to tackle it.”
The Investigating Officer, Detective Constable Mike Volynchook, spoke following the sentencing of Cain, “Both of these incidents were despicable examples of hate crime in Liverpool City Centre.
“In the first, Cain approached a 16-year-old boy, Elliott Heap, who was on his way his place of education. The victim was using crutches due to his disability, and Cain insulted him, made threats, and then kicked one of the crutches he was using for support.
“He then made further threats before walking away, before police were called. This nasty and spiteful behaviour left the victim shaken and fortunate not to fall and sustain injuries.
Sandra Heap, Mum of Elliott, spoke following the sentencing, “I’d like to thank the public who identified the offender from the media appeal. They rallied round and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. People need to see the police as a positive; my son was targeted because of who he is and the police and the public couldn’t have been better.
“The police went above and beyond, the officer dealing was amazing, he was fantastic and we felt really listened to. There was integrity, they were professional and the support given was unbelievable. Elliott will be so pleased.”
D/C Volynchook continued, “In May, Cain then entered the o2 store in Church Street, Liverpool, for assistance to fix his phone. Despite staff helping him, Cain was aggressive and shouting and swearing. He then made threats of violence and used racial slurs against a staff member, before being escorted out of the store by security, knocking over a display of phones.
“He returned a short time later to throw a drink over staff in the shop. This abhorrent behaviour targeted people simply trying to do their jobs. Nobody should be subjected to threats, racial abuse and left fearful and deeply upset in their place of work, and we work closely with businesses to ensure they are supported in any such investigations.
“I’d like to thank both victims for supporting this prosecution, and to those members of the public and security staff who intervened. Having thought he had escaped justice for the first offence, Cain continued to exhibit the same behaviour the following month.
“It is so important that we bring these prosecutions and that society as a whole challenges hateful, threatening and violent behaviour targeting anyone based on appearance, gender identity, sexuality, race or disability.
“We hope that Cain’s sentence gives other victims of hate crime the confidence to come forward, and assurances that we will deal with any such incident with compassion and sensitivity, acting on all information to bring offenders to justice.”
Image: Michael Cain/Merseyside Police