Karaoke loving disabled man known as ‘Elvis’ beaten to a pulp

A karaoke-loving disabled man was beaten to a pulp by a thug who targeted him because of his vulnerability.

Paul Humphries has learning difficulties, a speech impediment and is deaf in both ears, requiring hearing aids.

The 51-year-old found a safe haven at The Alexandra pub in Bootle, where regulars took him to their hearts.

Liverpool Crown Court heard he became known as 'Elvis', thanks to his love of Elvis Presley, and is also nicknamed 'Podger'.

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But he was left too scared to visit the pub after a gutless attack by Lee Smith, 36, which left him with a bleed on the brain.

The Alexandra pub on Marsh Lane in Bootle

Smith, who was heard to say "I'm going to get that Elvis Presley", followed Mr Humphries as he walked home.

He then savagely battered him in the street – breaking his victim's nose, right eye socket and right cheekbone.

Claire Jones, prosecuting, said both men were in the Marsh Lane pub at around 10.30pm, on Boxing Day 2018.

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Smith, of Warrenhouse Road, Kirkby, was new to The Alexandra and a stranger to Mr Humphries.

Ms Jones said: "The licensee described the defendant as being argumentative and aggressive with other customers."

Inside the pub Smith was heard to make threats to the victim, including the chilling warning.

CCTV footage showed Mr Humphries leave just after 2am and follow his usual route home.

Within 40 seconds Smith went after him, with another clip showing the victim "followed closely" by the thug.

Ms Jones said: "It captured the complainant gesturing to the defendant to go away.

"The complainant described how the defendant was saying, 'come here, I want a word with you' and the complainant telling him he didn't want to know."

She said Smith punched Mr Humphries more than once to the face in Marsh Lane, knocking him over.

He hit his head on the pavement and a witness from a top floor flat reported hearing raised voices and a "thud".

The witness saw the victim lying on the ground, so ran outside, called an ambulance and stayed with him.

Mr Humphries was taken to Aintree hospital, where he was treated for bruising and bleeding on the brain.

He was admitted to a major trauma ward with multiple fractures, two wounds to his right eyelid, and two loose front teeth.

A group of people who knew about the attack spotted Smith near Bootle's Asda store at around 3pm that day.

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The court heard CCTV cameras showed them chase him, but he was armed with a knife and escaped.

Police spoke to Smith's mum and arrested him on December 29, when he was still wearing the same clothes, and gave a "no comment" interview.

It was alleged Smith used a bottle in the attack and he was set to stand trial charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

However, prosecutors accepted the evidence could not be seen to support that and he admitted the lesser offence of causing grievous bodily harm.

Mr Humphries' dad said his son was now "very withdrawn" and no longer able to go to the shops or pub.

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Ms Jones said: "That's changed to the point he's described as rarely going out and sits in his room all day."

She added: "He used to like to sing and attend karaoke night – he now refuses to, essentially out of fear."

Ms Jones said: "He has had a hard life coping with his disability generally but had developed a good relationship with people at The Alexandra pub.

"It was up until this incident something of a safe place for him where no one would pick on him because they knew him.

"This has all been taken away by the defendant. He won't go back to that pub."

Lee Smith, 36, of Warrenhouse Road, Kirkby, battered a disabled man

Smith has a long history of violence, including convictions for assault causing actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm. He also has three robberies plus an attempted robbery on his record.

Smith had already admitted possessing a knife in public and was jailed for 16 months last year.

Martine Snowdon, defending, said there was no suggestion the two parties had met before or knew anything about each other.

She said: "There is nothing in the background that could have or would have alerted Mr Smith to the vulnerabilities that he now knows Mr Humphries did have."

However, Judge Garrett Byrne said there was evidence her client targeted the victim by referring to his nickname.

Ms Snowdon said: "He accepts they had an exchange of words inside the pub before leaving. I don't say there is no premeditation at all.

"He said he wasn't aware to any extent of the defendant's vulnerabilities. He was just someone at the bar, with whom he had some cross words."

The lawyer said now knowing about this, Smith wanted to say "he is sorry and feels bad".

Judge Byrne told Smith he followed and attacked Mr Humphries "for reasons known only to yourself", despite the victim making it clear he didn't want any trouble.

He said: "Mr Humphries no longer feels able to go to that pub because he no longer feels safe there – in fact he never goes out, or hardly ever, because he is so fearful and worried, as he is most of the time."

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The judge added: "This incident has served to exacerbate his pre-existing vulnerabilities."

Judge Byrne said Smith had "a concerning pattern of violence" and was "dangerous".

He said: "It seems to me it's self evident that had you had an exchange of words with Mr Humphries in the pub – and it's conceded that you did – his vulnerabilities such as they were must have been very and plainly obvious to you.

"I take the view you have deliberately targeted Mr Humphries because of those vulnerabilities."