A teenage boy and a man have been sentenced for their parts in a hate crime in which a transgender man was attacked in Aylesbury.
Owen Wise, aged 17, of Kingham Court, New Street, Aylesbury, and Michael Thorpe, aged 21, of Beech Green, Aylesbury, were sentenced on Tuesday (18/4) at Aylesbury Crown Court.
Wise was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and Thorpe received two years and three months’ imprisonment.
Wise, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and Thorpe pleaded guilty to one count of theft at the same court at a hearing in December 2016.
On 25 July 2016 at around 10.50pm the victim, a 40-year-old man, was walking in Hannon Road, Aylesbury, when he was approached by a group of males. Wise verbally abused him, making references to him being transgender. He stole his mobile phone and his wallet containing money.
He then punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground. A second man also pushed him around. Thorpe then stole the victim’s phone and took it away from the scene.
The victim was taken by ambulance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He sustained a bleed to the brain, a broken nose and a wound to his cheek.
Wise and Thorpe were both arrested on 28 July 2016 and were charged in connection with the offences on the following day.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Message sent by
Diane Brown (Police, NHW & Community Messaging Co-ordinator, Aylesbury Vale LPA)