Thug who battered man with crutches calls co-defendants 'scumbags' as he's jailed

Michael Strange
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

A thug who battered a man with his crutches branded his co-defendants "scumbags".

Michael Strange and his then partner Cassandra Shaw attacked their victim after he refused to lend them money. His ex-girlfriend and a second woman, Chelsea Stanley, also fell to be sentenced in connection with a robbery which saw another man tipped out of his wheelchair before his assailants rifled through his pockets and stole cash from him.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday afternoon, Monday, that the complainant in the first incident, Simon Downes, had known Shaw "for some time" and took her into his home on Valley Road in Anfield when she was homeless, as well as lending her money. The 37-year-old, of Charles Street in St Helens, had moved out of the address around a month prior to May 20 2022, when she and Strange visited the property and spent the evening drinking with the occupant before leaving.

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Graham Pickavance, prosecuting, described how the couple then returned and asked Mr Downes for money. When he refused, 36-year-old Strange dragged him outside and began hitting him with one of the crutches he was using due to an ankle injury.

Shaw meanwhile armed herself with the other crutch and similarly attacked their victim with the mobility aid. Strange, of Alton Street in Crewe, then produced a dog chain from his bum bag and began striking Mr Downes with the object.

The windscreen of his car was meanwhile smashed by Shaw before both of his attackers ran away from the scene. Mr Downes suffered a broken arm and had to undergo surgery and have a metal plate fixed to the bone as a result.

Then, on April 18 last year, wheelchair user Robert Kay heard banging at the door of his home on Tolver Street in St Helens. When he answered, he was pushed the floor to Wesley Powell - a 23-year-old man, of no fixed address, who previously received six years behind bars for robbery - before one of his two female accomplices took £46 in cash and his bank card from his pockets.

Powell, Shaw and Stanley were all caught on CCTV footage entering and leaving. Strange, who had no involvement in this second offence, was heard to remark "scumbags" as Mr Pickavance outlined details of the altercation.

Shaw has 11 previous convictions for 24 offences, but none since 2006. Isabella Denn-White, appearing on her behalf, said: "Ms Shaw is quite a vulnerable woman.

"There were concerns about a violent and abusive relationship she found herself in. She is quite easily led. She has had a concerning and sad upbringing. That spiralled into the life she has lived.

"Her drug and alcohol use has resulted in this sort of offending. She is sorry and remorseful and says she will not find herself in this situation ever again.

"She has not been before the courts since 18 years ago, for minor offending. She has managed to keep herself out of trouble and says that is something she wishes to do again. She can address her issues. She knows she needs to get help for them"

Strange's criminal record shows 41 entries for 107 offences. Andrew McInnes, defending, told the court: "It wasn't really Mr Strange's argument, and he wishes now that he had not become involved.

"It is aggravated by Mr Strange's previous convictions. It is an unattractive record. His previous violence is sporadic and certainly not on this level. He has suffered a history of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"With that background, he tells me he is finding custody difficult physically and mentally. He had moved away from the area in an effort to make a new start.

"There are green shoots, with a stable relationship. It is that stability that has always been Mr Strange's difficulty."

Stanley, of Silkstone Close in St Helens, has no previous convictions. Brendan Carville, representing the 28-year-old, told the court that his client was Powell's girlfriend and had been addicted to drugs at the time, adding: "In my submission, it is very limited involvement by a woman of previous good character."

Shaw admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm, criminal damage and theft. Appearing via video link to HMP Styal, she was handed a 12-month imprisonment suspended for two years plus rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 20 days and a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement.

Strange pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was jailed for 16 months, after which he turned to his girlfriend in the public gallery as he was led to the cells and said: "See you in a minute."

Stanley, who also appeared in the dock, admitted theft. She received a 15-month community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 20 days and a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement.

Sentencing, Recorder Karen Ridge said of the attack upon Mr Downes: "The whole ordeal was frightening and upsetting for him. It has affected his day to day living."

The judge added of the robbery: "He was alone and vulnerable, and he feels even more so in his own home. It must have been a significantly upsetting and distressing ordeal for him."

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