A disabled victim whose car was his pride and joy as well as his only means of getting about has said the yob who smashed his vehicle with a hammer should be serving time.
Ryan Stoker, 26, was already subject to a suspended prison sentence when set about smashing almost all the windows of Ray and Alison Mills’s Renault Grand Scenic, Sunderland magistrates heard.
Mr Mills, 63, who is paralysed from the waist down since a freak accident a few years ago saw him slip and fall on the way to his granddaughter’s Christmas play, says he has been left housebound without the car and unable to get to and from hospital appointments.
It had only been parked outside the Mills’s home in James Armitage Street, Southwick, for a matter of minutes when Stoker appeared wielding a hammer in broad daylight on August 8.
Prosecutor Angela Narey said the car had been parked in the disabled bay at 12.45pm. Just 20 minutes later the damage was discovered. Almost all the windows had been put out and there were impact marks from a hammer on the glass and scratches to the paintwork, Miss Narey said.
The damage would have cost £2,800 to repair, far more than the car was worth, and the vehicle was written off by the insurance company.
That car was my only means of getting about. It’s just my wife on her own and me in the wheelchair. That toe rag smashed my car up for no reason.Ray Mills, 63
Stoker was arrested after blood splattered on the car was found to contain his DNA.
In a statement read out in court, Mrs Mills said: “I’m very upset by this incident and I am very concerned that no other car in the street was damaged, it has caused me stress and anxiety and a lot of inconvenience.
“The car was used to transport my disabled husband around. The car was parked in a disabled bay and I can’t believe anyone would do this to a disabled car.”
Miss Narey added: “There is no suggestion that this is a disabled hate crime. However, it is an aggravating factor that it has been parked in a disabled bay.”
Stoker, 26, of Brockley Street, Town End Farm pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage.
Brian Chapman, defending, said: “I can’t give any explanation as to why this incident occurred. What I can say is that Ryan is desperately sorry and remorseful.”
Stoker was sentenced to a 12-month community order with £300 hours’ of unpaid work, and told to pay £250 in compensation for the Mills’s insurance excess, £150 criminal courts charge, £85 costs and a £60 surcharge.
Wheelchair-user Mr Mills said the fact that the car was parked in a marked disabled bay and featured a sticker, saying ‘I use a wheelchair’ should have given a clue as to how important the car was to him.
Speaking to the Echo after the case, the grandad-of-three said: “I would have liked to see him get time for that.
“That car was my only means of getting about,” he said. “It’s just my wife on her own and me in the wheelchair. That toe rag smashed my car up for no reason.
“We were left without a car and I had an appointment the next day that couldn’t be changed to take a driving test for an electric wheelchair. We had to get a taxi.
On top of the insurance excess, and despite having protected no-claims, the Mills’ say their premiums jumped from £300 to £500 per year after the incident.
He added: “We’ve looked after it for the time we’ve had it, we had a real bonny car, it was washed and cleaned and serviced. It wasn’t just a car, it was our pride and joy.
Mrs Mills, 57, was alerted to the damage by a neighbour shortly after returning from her supermarket trip.
“I had been shopping and I brought my stuff in,” she said. “I was still in the kitchen, putting the shopping away, when there was a knock on the door. It was a neighbour saying ‘have you seen your car?’
“I went outside and I just couldn’t believe it. He’d smashed seven windows. I shouted for Ray to ring the police..
“I thought there was coke down the side of the car like someone throwing a can at it. But the police said ‘it’s blood’, that’s how they caught him.
“It’s just such an inconvenience really. It was in a disabled bay, which would have been obvious to anyone.”