Disgusting thug verbally abused and threw dye over disabled young woman in Harborough town centre

The young woman's support worker was also targeted

Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:23 pm
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:24 pm
The scene of the incident.

A visibly disabled young woman was subjected to foul-mouthed abuse and had hair dye hurled at her in a “vicious and nasty” hate crime in Market Harborough.

The victim aged in her mid-30s and a young support worker with her were “deliberately targeted” by a “thug” in a car as they walked across The Square in the town centre.

The lout who carried out the twin verbal and physical assaults on the disabled woman and her support worker, who’s in her 20s, in broad daylight is being hunted by police.

The support worker's bag - splattered with dye.

And the police themselves have now made a public apology for the way the incident was handled by officers after they were slammed for their “deeply concerning” response.

Outraged Marie Norman, the director of Freedom Support, which supports 56 disabled people in the Market Harborough area, told the Harborough Mail: “We need to shine a bright spotlight on this disgusting and despicable attack.

“It’s very worrying on several levels.

“It beggars belief that one of our clients, a lovely young lady with a visible learning disability, was attacked as she walked in our town centre with one of our support workers.

The support worker's clothes - also splattered with dye.

“The attack happened at 3.34pm on Tuesday afternoon.

“They had just been to Wesses baker’s on The Square.

“They were near the bus stop on that side of the road when our new support worker, who’s brilliant, suddenly heard a lot of shouting.

“She soon realised that this horrific foul-mouthed stream of abuse was being aimed at our disabled client.

“A man in a passing car shouted at her that she was a f*****g sp****c,” said Marie.

“And then he threw some sort of substance at them.

“Our support worker was so shocked and thought ‘My God, what’s this?’

“Obviously initially she had no idea what this was – it could have easily been acid,” said Marie, who’s based in Market Harborough.

“The liquid hit the ground and bounced up, soaking her coat, her leggings and her bag.

“The thug who did this was clearly aiming for the disabled lady before the car sped off.

“The stunned support worker then realised that they’d had hair dye hurled at them – and she took pictures at the scene.

“She spotted two police officers nearby and immediately went over to them to report the incident and ask for help.

“But shamefully they didn’t want to know and just shrugged her off.

“They were both very blasé about it,” said Marie.

“It was almost as if she was wasting their time – it is unbelievable.

“So she called me, I was in LA Hair in town having my nails done at the time.

“We all met up and the support worker rang police to try again to report this wicked attack.

“They gave us a reference number and said they’d call us back.

“Our support worker spent almost all of Wednesday trying to get back in touch with the police because she hadn’t heard from them.

“We also spent 45 minutes trying to get through to the county council to report it to them too.

“We then randomly got an email from the police via the county council asking us to take part in a hate crime survey,” said Marie.

“You couldn’t make it up!

“So I rang the police number given on the email – and it was the wrong number.

“Talk about going from bad to worse.

“I was so angry I emailed our MP Neil O’Brien and PCC Rupert Matthews to complain about the police’s extremely poor response.

“They should have been checking footage from the CCTV cameras on The Square by then – and looking for the idiot who carried out this attack.

“I finally got an email from the force’s hate crime officer, Isla Dixon, on Thursday – two days later.

“She apologised to me for the way this whole thing had been handled.

“And she admitted that the way they’d responded fell well below their ‘expected standards’.

“This was a deliberately targeted attack on a visibly disabled woman born and bred right here in Market Harborough,” said Marie.

“It was carried out in the middle of the afternoon slap bang in our town centre in front of other shoppers and passers-by.

“The person behind this horrific assault has to be caught – and brought to justice.

“They need to be hauled into court, prosecuted and punished.

“We are all very disappointed with the way the police have responded and reacted to this outrageous attack on two innocent people.

“We look after 13 disabled people in our three houses in Market Harborough and one in Desborough.

“We also have 56 clients who come to our training academy on Lathkill Street.

“This is a sickening out and out hate crime against one of our disabled clients.

“I don’t have much confidence in our local police after the last few days.

“But I just hope that they catch who ever did this – and they get the justice they deserve in court.”

Furious Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough District Council, said he is now striving to set up a meeting with Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole as he seeks urgent answers.

“This whole incident is totally unacceptable – from all angles.

“The sick moron who did this could have easily hit either or both women in the eyes and face,” Cllr King told the Mail.

“He could have scarred them for life – and turned their lives upside down.

“This is a vicious, nasty hate crime which will shock all right-thinking people.

“I urge anyone who knows anything about the criminal who did this to contact the police straight away.

“In fact, the offender should do the decent thing – and hand themselves in,” insisted Cllr King.

“But I am also deeply concerned about the police response.

“This is all about basic coppering.

“For the support worker to immediately report this to two police officers nearby the scene in our town centre and for them to allegedly show no interest is seriously worrying.

“We need to urgently understand why these officers did not respond immediately – as you would obviously expect them to.

“We need answers and we need reassurances,” said Cllr King.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Constable to find out what has gone on here.

“I’m sure he will be as concerned as I am.

“The police should also refer this to their force’s professional standards unit.

“And if appropriate this incident should also be passed on to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to be thoroughly investigated by them as well.”

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Mail: “This is a terrible thing to happen in the middle of Market Harborough.

“Hopefully the police will now pull their finger out and find the person who did this.”

A Leicestershire Police spokesperson told the Mail: “We are aware of an incident that occurred in Market Harborough on Tuesday afternoon (24 August) whereby a disabled person and their support worker were subjected to verbal abuse.

“A liquid – now known to be hair dye – was also thrown at them.

“The support worker spoke to two officers nearby and made them aware of what happened and was advised to make a formal report by calling the non-emergency 101 number.

“A call was received via 101 a short time later and more information was disclosed.

“It was recorded as being for information only.

“Owing to procedures put in place within the force, a crime report was created and an investigation commenced,” said the spokesperson.

“We acknowledge that the matter should have immediately been recorded as a hate crime.

“Both the support worker and her employer have been contacted.

“The force has issued an apology that the level of service did not meet their expectations.

“The incident has been crimed and is being investigated by a dedicated officer who is carrying out enquiries, including reviewing CCTV of the area.

“We would ask anyone with information to come forward, quoting incident 382 of 24 August.”