September 4, 2018 9.38 am This story is over 64 months old

Disabled toilet dispute leads to vicious assault

The victim suffered a fractured right elbow

A pub customer seriously injured an able-bodied man who later required surgery after confronting him over using the bar’s disabled toilet.

Sean Howson, who is himself disabled, objected to Steve Merrick using the disabled toilet in a Skegness pub only to be met with verbal abuse, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Monday.

Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, said that Howson went over to Mr Merrick and threw a punch which struck his victim on the jaw.

Mr Merrick responded with a “rabbit punch” – a sharp chop with the edge of the hand to the back of the neck – only then to be attacked again by Howson.

Mr Dunne said: “The defendant threw Mr Merrick to the ground. Mr Merrick heard his arm crack. The defendant was then seen to kick him in the face.”

The victim suffered a fractured right elbow and later underwent surgery to have a metal plate and screws inserted.

Mr Dunne said: “This incident arose after the defendant questioned Steve Merrick about him inappropriately using the disabled toilet. At the time the defendant needed to use the toilet urgently to empty his colostomy bag.”

The court was told that the pub allowed any customer, whether disabled or not, to use the disabled toilet.

Howson, 49, of Sunningdale Crescent, Skegness, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm as a result of the incident on November 28 2017.

He was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to Mr Merrick.

Lisa Hardy, in mitigation, said Howson became disabled in 2016 after contracting diverticulitis resulting in the removal of a large part of his bowel.

His conditioned worsened which led to his whole bowel being removed.

Miss Hardy said that Howson found it difficult to cope with his health problems and underwent counselling.

She told the court: “He was struggling emotionally and mentally. He had started counselling but he admits he was feeling very frustrated and very angry. In that depressed state in November he was sitting in the pub when this offence took place.”

Miss Hardy added: “He had been recently confronted by others for his use of the disabled toilet because he looks physically well.”