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Mugger of pensioner Alan Barnes faces hate crime claim

By Tom Wilkinson

A drug addict who mugged frail pensioner Alan Barnes wept as he heard lawyers will argue his attack was a hate crime.

The prosecution will say Richard Gatiss deliberately targeted his 4ft 6in, visually-impaired 67-year-old victim out of hostility towards the disabled.

The sickening story of how Mr Barnes, from Gateshead, was attacked in January went global and a fundraising exercise to buy him a new home was stopped when it reached £330,000 in a matter of days.

Gatiss (25), also from Gateshead, appeared briefly at Newcastle Crown Court via a videolink from Durham Prison where he is being kept in segregation for his own safety. He will be sentenced on April 2.

The mugger appeared distraught and sat hunched in his chair. A prosecutor said the mugger struck in an area of sheltered accommodation for disabled and elderly people, he made a partial admission to police that he knew of Mr Barnes prior to the attack, and that, in Mr Barnes's opinion, he was attacked because of his disability.

Belfast Telegraph


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