THERE is one question that still remains unanswered over Michael Mairs' murder, a question that will likely always will remained unanswered.


When Daniel Sharples saw a disabled man who – as far as is known by police – he had never met before sitting in his wheelchair drinking with friends, what went through his head to decide that he would attack him with such ferocity that he was put into a coma and, ultimately, killed?

Judge Thomas Teague suggested that the murderer had a hatred for the homeless or alcoholics during his sentencing remarks this morning.

Perhaps, emboldened by a couple of pints, the well-trained martial arts enthusiast may have thought he was showing off just what a hard man he was.

But his actions – rendering a vulnerable and defenceless victim unconscious, and yet still continuing his assault – were those of a coward.

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Detective sergeant Alison Howarth said: "It was a protracted incident with repeated acts of violence against more than one individual.

"Michael Mairs was very likely unconscious throughout much of the attack.

"He offered no defence, and he was simply the one who was left behind and couldn't get away.

"Sharples did not take to the stand to give any kind of explanation for his behaviour on that day.

"I believe he attacked Michael Mairs because he was vulnerable, and because he couldn't make good his escape.

"He picked his victims.

"It was a controlled, intentional attack on a vulnerable person and he thought he would get away with it."

CCTV: Murderer explodes in fit of rage in eerie foreshadowing of savage killing

The Halliwell Jones Stadium was hosting Warrington Wolves Women's Championship semi-final that day – and while the King's Head was not quite packed to the rafters as it would have been on a men's matchday, there were still a number of families gathered in the Wire fans' favourite pub enjoying a pre-game drink.

Young children inside were left terrified as the crazed attacker burst past them in a bid to flee police via the beer garden.

But, after a short chase, Sharples was detained and investigations began.

Cheshire Police's murder probe was somewhat unusual in that it was carried out by the local policing unit rather than the major investigation team, as would normally be the case – owing to the fact that enquiries had been initiated by officers engrained in the community three weeks before Mr Mairs' death.

Detective scoured hours of CCTV footage and interviewed dozens of witnesses who were left 'shocked to the core' by Sharples' attack.

Their invaluable firsthand evidence was undoubtedly a key factor in convincing the jury of his guilt.

DS Howarth added: "Sharples was initially arrested on suspicion of a section 18 assault – which is one of the most serious assaults, so the response to that is very similar to a murder investigation anyway.

"We managed to work hard and secure the key evidence, and we already had a handle on the investigation.

"Because it was such a horrific incident, we were almost overwhelmed by the amount of people that were coming forward and giving us accounts of what had happened.

"Witnesses vividly recounted in court what happened, 12 months down the line, and they were in no doubt that he intended to inflict serious harm.

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"I've thanked all of them and told them not to underestimate what they've done.

"They knew they needed to do it, because what they saw was wrong and the most horrific violence they will likely ever witnesses.

"It's a Sunday morning in Warrington town centre, you're spending time with your loved ones and you witness something like that.

"It stays with you.

"All the witnesses will have to deal with what they saw on that day in their own way, but it didn't stop them from standing up in court and conveying to the jury what they saw."