A martial arts thug who murdered a vulnerable granddad in a wheelchair was today branded a “vile bully” by the victim’s family.
Daniel Sharples, 38, roundhouse-kicked dad-of-two Michael Mairs, 53, tipped him out of his chair, then booted him in the head as he lay unconscious on the ground in an unprovoked attack.
The drink and drug fuelled killer fled after the “vicious” attack and amputee Mr Mairs died from his injuries three weeks later, Liverpool Echo reports.
Sickening footage of the attack was released by Cheshire Police with the permission of Mr Mairs’ family.
Sharples later told police his victim previously tried to sell his son “smack” and spice saying “I’m glad I did it and I’ll do it again”.
But the killer’s two sons both told police they had never taken the drugs or been given them by Mr Mairs, who they had never even met.
A trial heard Sharples ordered pints of lager, pancakes and Sambuca shots for breakfast in two pubs and took Valium before the assault.
He admitted manslaughter but denied murder on the basis he was too “out of control” to form the intent to either seriously harm or kill Mr Mairs.
However, a jury unanimously found Sharples guilty of the murder, which took place under a railway bridge in Warrington, just after midday on October 6 last year.
Following the verdict, Mr Mairs’ son and daughter said: “What Sharples did on the afternoon of October 6 last year will live with us forever.
“That day, Sharples set out to kill and our dad was unfortunately caught in the crossfire.
“It goes without saying that Sharples’ actions were those of a vile bully.
“We will never forget the funny, bubbly, caring man our dad once was.
“We, as a family, would like to thank all the witnesses who came forward and those who tried to help our dad that day.
“We are more than grateful.”
Sharples began his day at 9.40am when he went for breakfast with a pint at the Looking Glass in Warrington town centre.
He then went on to the Hop Pole where he had more alcohol to drink along with several shots of Sambuca.
Sharples then left the pub at around midday and made his way up Winwick Street.
As he went under the railway bridge he came across Mr Mairs who was drinking with friends.
Sharples began to verbally abuse the group, before attacking Mr Mairs’ two friends – who both fled the scene after being repeatedly punched in the face.
He then turned his attention to Mr Mairs who was unable to escape – he initially punched him in the face, before tipping his wheelchair over and repeatedly kicking him in the head as he lay helpless on the floor.
As the attack continued, a member of the public intervened and attempted to pull Sharples off Mr Mairs, who was barely conscious on the floor.
However, the attack was not over, and before fleeing the scene he grabbed Mr Mairs’ wheelchair from underneath him and tossed it aside.
He then ran off on foot, but was arrested a short time later after attempting to evade officers.
Upon his arrest Sharples admitted the attack – claiming that he carried it out as Michael had sold heroin to his son.
Mr Mairs was initially treated at the scene by paramedics before being transported to Warrington District General Hospital with injuries reported to be life threatening by the paramedics.
Due to the severity of his injuries, he was placed into an induced coma and transferred to intensive care.
Despite the best efforts of all those involved, Mr Mairs never regained consciousness and died on October 28.
A post mortem examination found that while he had suffered multiple organ failure, the central cause of death was the significant facial injuries sustained during the violent attack.
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Helen Clegg said: “This was a totally unprovoked attack on a vulnerable man who had no way of defending himself.
“On the day of the incident Michael was simply socialising with his friends and minding his own business.
“Sharples is a strong and powerful man and used his kick boxing experience to launch a vicious and sustained attack on Michael as he sat helpless in his wheelchair.
“He was totally focused on inflicting serious harm.
“Throughout the investigation Sharples has never shown any remorse.
“Instead, attempted to place the blame on Michael, claiming that he had sold drugs to his son, claims that were totally unsubstantiated.
“He went on to claim that he had taken Valium prior to the attack and was unable to control himself and had no recollection of what happened.
“Thankfully, the jury have seen though his lies and he is now facing the consequences of his actions.”
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “This crime shocked the local community and deeply saddened all those who knew Michael.
“I would like to thank all of the officers involved in the investigation who have helped to get justice for Michael’s family and friends.
“My thoughts are with them at this difficult time I hope this conviction gives them some form of comfort.”
Detective Inspector Clegg added: “I would like to thank all of the member of the public who helped Michael on the day, along with those who have come forward with information.
“Their evidence was compelling and a driving force behind the conviction of this man for Michael’s murder.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the courage that Michael’s children have shown throughout this case.
“I hope the conviction of Sharples will help them, and all those who knew him, to continue to come to terms with what happened and move forward with their lives.”
Sharples, from Warrington, was remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing on October 27.
Judge Thomas Teague, QC, said he would have to consider the minimum term for his inevitable life sentence.
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