The senior citizens who have been shamed in Manchester’s courts

Many of the cases which end up before the courts relate to young people.

But many defendants who end up in the dock are also of more advanced years – proving the benefit of experience doesn’t always stop people from straying onto the wrong side of the law.

Here are some of the most shocking cases involving older people to appear in Manchester court’s in recent months.

Michael Court

Michael Court
(Image: Cavendish Press)

Court, 70, carried out an arson attack after vowing to ‘sort out’ a family he lived near.

Court was angered after his neighbours left out rubbish to rot, dumped rusty cars on their driveway and played loud music, a court heard.

In the early hours while drunk, he set fire to two wheelie bins belonging to the family.

But the blaze spread to a neighbouring property, where a woman had to flee with her 12-week-old daughter.

The family Court was angered by were not home at the time.

Minshull Street Crown Court was told that Court suffers from dementia, and said he couldn’t recall the incident.

Jailing him for three years in September last year, Judge Bernard Lever said; “Fire officers say the flames and smoke could have killed that baby, leaving its mother beside herself with worry in the dead of night.

“In my judgement your conduct was unlawful and malicious and the damage you caused – the distress you caused – trumps any issue of giving you more assistance in your health needs. The anguish the mother suffered trumps that.”

Harry Hankinson

Harry Hankinson

Hankinson has previously been branded ‘Britain’s most prolific shoplifter’.

Last year a court heard that he had clocked up 546 offences since the 1970s, spending time in and out of prison.

In 2014, Hankinson was handed an ASBO, which banned him from every shop in Bolton.

In June last year Hankinson, 70, was back before the courts after being caught stealing £50 worth of food at Sainsbsurys in Oldham, and £85 worth of spirits from Aldi in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Appearing in the dock at Tameside Magistrates Court on crutches, he was conditionally discharged for 18 months.

The hearing heard that Hankinson had fallen from a hotel balcony whilst watching the 1970 World Cup.

He said he banged his head during the fall, and that the incident caused a ‘change in his personality’, turning him into a kleptomaniac with an ‘uncontrollable’ urge to steal.

Hankinson’s lawyer told the hearing: “He doesn’t commit crimes for his gain, there is no drug habit or lavish life style – he more often than not gives the items away.”

Michael Hanley

Michael Hanley outside Manchester magistrates’ court
(Image: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd)

Hanley was jailed for a road rage attack on a teenage cyclist.

Hanley, 69, rammed the 17-year-old off the road using his 4×4, after the boy pulled in front of him at a set of traffic lights.

Hanley told the shaken boy: ”Little sh*t – you’ve done this.”

He also told a nearby motorist: ”Did you see what he was doing? He was weaving all over the road.”

Hanley then grabbed the teenager’s shirt and punched him in the face, before smashing his own wing mirror in a temper tantrum and roaring off in his vehicle.

The incident happened in Summerseat, Bury, as Hanley was waiting at a set of temporary traffic lights near roadworks.

Hanley, of Greenmount, Bury – director of an estates management company – was found guilty of dangerous driving and common assault following a trial.

At Minshull Street Crown Court in September last year, Hanley was jailed for six months and banned from driving for 15 months.

William Lees

William Lees

Lees became ‘obsessed’ with a stranger, stalking the woman for more than 10 years.

Lees, 73, had not been in a relationship with the woman and had not been friends with her before developing an unrequited infatuation.

Lees’ behaviour included peering through the window of her home and following her in his car when she was on the bus.

At one point the woman, in her 40s, was driving close to her home when she saw Lees walking towards her car.

She stopped the car and shouted at him, asking Lees ‘why he was following her’.

“I want to be your friend,” Lees replied.

The victim called the police.

In a statement read to the court, she said: “I am afraid of this man. I have had to take medication to calm me.”

Lees, of Park Lane, Poynton, Stockport, has previous convictions, all of which relate to the woman.

In 2012, a restraining order was imposed to last indefinitely.

In November 2018, Lees was jailed for 12 months at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaching the restraining order.

John Kevin Murphy

Paedophile priest John Kevin Murphy
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

Aged 96, Murphy was put back behind bars last month.

A former Catholic priest and ‘predatory paedophile’, Murphy used his position to groom and abuse children for some 27 years.

He was jailed for three years in December 2017, and was locked up for another five years at a Liverpool Crown Court hearing last month.

Further victims came forward after seeing reports of the case in 2017.

Murphy, from Horwich, was ordained as a priest in 1962, and served in a number of parishes in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire until he retired.

One of Murphy’s victims told the court he has feelings of anger towards his parents because ‘their devotion to their religion blinded them in the face of a monster using his job as a priest to abuse me and other children’.

“Your offending has had a devastating impact on your victims for decades and they are still really seriously affected by what you did,” Judge Anil Murray told Murphy.

“It is no exaggeration to say you ruined many lives.”

David Thomason

Bolton Crown Court
(Image: MEN)

Thomason marked his 72nd birthday by appearing in court after being found with more than 150 indecent images of children on his computer.

Indecent cartoon-style images and 1,588 extreme pornography images were also found on Thomason’s devices.

After going to his home in Bolton, police found that Thomason had software on his laptop that allowed him to remove evidence of his activities.

Thomason, of Withins Lane, admitted three offences of making indecent photos of children, one offence of possession of a prohibited image of a child and one offence of possession of extreme pornographic image of a child.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years at Bolton Crown Court last month.

Judge Timothy Stead told the defendant: “You are a relatively isolated and lonely man.

“It’s a shame – and I use that word in its correct sense – that you are in court on your 72nd birthday and you have never been in court before.

“The fact you are now confronting this problem is promising.”

|Ma Evening Post