JUDGE Thomas Teague today described Michael Mairs’ murder as a ‘brutal attack on a defenceless man’ as he sentenced killer Daniel Sharples to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 21 years.

These are the judge’s sentencing remarks in full: “Daniel Sharples, the jury at your trial found you guilty of the murder of Michael Mairs – a crime for which the sentence, life imprisonment, is fixed by law.

“Mr Mairs was 53 when you kicked him to death.

“He was a particularly vulnerable man.

“Following the amputation of his right leg, he had to use a wheelchair to get about.

“His general health was poor, and he suffered from alcohol dependency.

“At the time of his death, he was living at a hostel in the centre of Warrington.

“It is important to place on record that the things you said to the police and others about Mr Mairs – in particular, that he was a user and supplier of illicit drugs – were completely false.

“Those claims have caused immense distress to his family.

“Whatever the personal difficulties he faced, he was a greatly loved father and grandfather.

“As his daughter so eloquently put it in her personal statement, your actions have ruined the lives of a good many people – including hers – and have take away a good man who did not deserve the horrific violence that you inflicted on him.

“You carried out this brutal attack on a defenceless man at lunchtime in the sight and presence of many members of the public going about their business in Warrington town centre.

“Mr Mairs was sitting in his wheelchair, chatting and drinking with a small group of people under the railway bridge outside Central Station.

“They were minding their own business, doing nobody any harm.

“You had spent the morning drinking lager and aniseed liqueur.

“When you caught sight of the group under the bridge, you advanced towards them and picked a quarrel with Mr Mairs – falsely accusing him of supplying your son with illicit drugs.

“You began by assaulting two younger men in the group.

“Having thrown one against a metal fence, you kicked him in the torso.

“You kicked the other in the face twice.

“You then turned your attention to Mr Mairs, whom you punched in the head before deploying your undoubted skills as a practitioner of martial arts to deliver at least two powerful kicks to his head and face as he sat upright in his wheelchair.

“You tipped him backwards out of the wheelchair, flinging it aside and out of his reach.

“By that stage, he was probably already unconscious – but you repeatedly kicked and stamped on his head as he lay motionless on the ground.

“You persisted even after a member of the public bravely intervened by trying to interpose himself between you and your otherwise helpless victim.

“All this you did while under the influence of alcohol and possibly other substances, but as the jury has found you were not so intoxicated as not to have intended the consequences of your actions.

“You had the presence of mind to remove your outer clothing as you left the scene, and you attempted to escape through a nearby public house – making your way into the beer garden and climbing over the back fence.

“The emergency services arrived promptly.

“The police quickly arrested you.

“Mr Mairs was taken to hospital, but despite all the skill and dedicated of the medical and nursing staff his condition deteriorated.

“He died just over three weeks later on October 28.

“Following your arrest, far from displaying remorse, you boasted of what you had done.

“You made a wholly unfounded allegation that he had supplied your son with illicit drugs, adding ‘I kicked his f***ing head in’.

“At the police station, you repeated the same falsehood about Mr Mairs – telling the custody sergeant that you were glad you had done it and would do it again.

“There was not a word of truth in what you said about your victim.

“It was just a threadbare cloak for your prejudice against those unfortunate people, of whom Mr Mairs was one, who liked to congregate under the bridge outside Central Station and who are often homeless or dependent on alcohol or other substances – or both.

“That was something you revealed after your arrest, when you said to the custody sergeant ‘why don’t you do your job and go and clear all these smackheads off the estate, the f***ing town centre’.

“As I say, the sentence of the court is prescribed by law and is life imprisonment.

“Whether you are released will be a matter for the parole board, who will only direct your release when satisfied that you no longer present a risk to the public.

“Even then, you will remain subject to licence conditions for the rest of your life.

“If you breach any of those conditions, you will be liable to be returned to prison to serve the rest of your sentence.

“However, the law requires me to determine the minimum term that must elapse before you can be considered for such release.

“Everybody should understand that the minimum term which the court imposes is the minimum period which you must serve in prison before you are entitled to apply for release on licence.

“Further, when you become eligible to apply for parole there is no guarantee that you will be released then or at any time.

“In determining the minimum period that must elapse before you can be considered for release on licence, the court must have regard to the provisions of schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 – which provides starting points and non-exhaustive lists of aggravating and mitigating factors.

“I have considered whether Mr Mairs’ dependence on alcohol, or your incorrect presumption that he was dependent on illicit drugs, brings this case within section 146 of the 2003 act.

“Although I have concluded that it does not, the fact that your attack on Mr Mairs was motivated by hostility towards people with problems of the kind which he suffered amounts in my judgement to an aggravating factor.

“In the absence of circumstances bringing your case within paragraphs four, five or five A of schedule 21, it clearly falls under paragraph six – which specifies a starting point of 15 years.

“There are, however, several important aggravating factors.

“By reason of his obvious physical disability and poor health, your victim was particularly vulnerable.

“Furthermore, it is clear that you targeted him as a vulnerable person – at one stage tipping him out of his wheelchair in order to facilitate your attack.

“You assaulted him in a crowded town centre in the presence of many members of the public.

“The attack was persistent, in that you carried it on even after a member of the public intervened and tried to protect Mr Mairs.

“Although you did not use a weapon in the strict sense, you are a skilled practitioner of martial arts and deployed your skills to devastating effect – using your shod feet against the head and face of your victim.

“The assault was unprovoked, your motive being hostility towards people with problems of the kind from which Mr Mairs suffered.

“You have previous convictions for public disorder and, in 2017, for assaulting a constable.

“Your other convictions are for dishonesty, criminal damage, possession of cannabis and road traffic offences.

“Taken as a whole, I accept that your previous record does not seriously aggravate your position.

“In mitigation, it has been suggested that your intention may have been to cause grievous bodily harm rather than to kill.

“In my judgement however, this is a case in which the distinction scarcely matters.

“As I have already noted, you have shown no remorse for what you did – and given the extreme and persistent violence that you deliberately and accurately direction against the head of your victim, it makes very little practical difference to your culpability whether your intention was to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.

“There are no other mitigating factors.

“I have, however, read the letters written to the court by your girlfriend, your parents and your friend.

“I have also reminded myself of the contents of the statement made by your stepson.

“The sentence must be one of life imprisonment.

“The aggravating factors I have listed clearly warrant a minimum term substantially in excess of the starting point specified in paragraph six of schedule 21.

“In the circumstances, I have concluded that the appropriate minimum term before you can be considered for release on licence is one of 21 years less the period of 385 days that you have spent on remand – namely 19 years and 345 days from today.

“For the two offences of assault by beating, those being the associated assaults, there will be concurrent terms of four months’ imprisonment reflecting full credit for your prompt guilty pleas to those charges.

“Since they will run concurrently, those prison terms do not add to the overall length of the sentence you must serve but I have reflected the offences in my assessment of the appropriate minimum term.

“The statutory surcharge applies in this case and an order will be drawn up accordingly.”