News, Culture & Society

Blackpool thugs beat cancer patient with a hammer

A pair of thugs have been jailed for a total of 30 years after they attacked a defenceless father-of-one who had an inoperable and terminal brain tumor with a hammer. 

Plumber Christopher Caeser, 36, was undergoing chemotherapy for his terminal brain tumour when he was attacked at his home in Blackpool, Lancashire. 

Dale Docherty and Johnny Johnstone broke down Mr Caeser’s front door in October 2016 and demanded cash.  

Christopher Caeser, pictured, was beaten with a hammer by a pair of thugs at his home in October 2016 despite the fact he was battling fatal brain cancer at the time

Blackpool thugs beat cancer patient with a hammer

Blackpool thugs beat cancer patient with a hammer

Dale Docherty, left, and Johnny Johnstone were both jailed for 16 and 17 years respectively

They told him they would ‘kneecap’ him if he failed to handover any cash.   

Mr Caesar was taken to hospital with a bleed to the brain but the clot was too close to his cancerous tumour for doctors to operate and he died six months later.

Police investigating the attack spoke to an eyewitness in the flat who pleaded with the two robbers top leave the victim alone due to his tumour only for them to laugh at him.

At Preston Crown Court, Johnstone was jailed for 17 years and Docherty received 16 years after both admitted robbery.

The raid occurred in October 2016, the same month Docherty and Johnston met Mr Caesar through a friend. 

In a statement made before he died, Mr Caesar said: ‘I went to bed but some time later I woke up to some noise sounding like a door being kicked in. I was still in bed when Dale came into my room. He said: “Oi you, get up”.

‘I was worried as he sounded very aggressive. I walked into the living room, I saw Johnny sat down on the couch near the door and he had a small hammer in his hand. Dale ordered me to sit on the other couch. I sat down because I just wanted to go along with it.

Johnstone, pictured, and his co-accused kicked down Mr Caeser's front door in October 2016

Johnstone, pictured, and his co-accused kicked down Mr Caeser’s front door in October 2016

‘I’d heard about Jonny and heard he had been really violent in the past.’

He said Johnstone demanded £400 otherwise everyone would be ‘kneecapped’.

Following the attack he said he woke in his bedroom with blood pouring down his nose, and couldn’t move his left arm or leg.

Police called to the property found Mr Caesar drifting in and out of consciousness and he was taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with no mobility in his left arm and left leg. Medics found he had a brain haemorrhage due to beating plus broken bones in his nose and cheeks.

He passed away in March with a post mortem showing his death was due to the tumour, not as a result of injuries sustained during the attack.

Johnstone was arrested shortly after the attack but Docherty went on the run. He was arrested in Scotland in December 2016.

In a statement after the case, Mr Caesar’s family said: ‘Christopher was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour seven years ago but despite this he continued to work as a plumber and he would spend his free time with his son, visiting his extended family and having a social life.

Blackpool thugs beat cancer patient with a hammer

Blackpool thugs beat cancer patient with a hammer

Docherty, left, and Johnstone, right, met Mr Caeser one month before the attack in 2016

‘While the rest of the family were suffering to come to terms with the news of Christopher’s diagnosis, he always had a positive attitude regarding his illness and he never gave up believing that he could beat it.

‘Christopher was an integral part of the family and was very much loved by all. He had a very close relationship to his son who he saw every weekend and throughout the school holidays. He also had a very strong bond with his sister who was not only his sister but also his soul mate.

‘He was adored by his nieces and nephew and deeply loved by his mum and dad. He was also a good, reliable friend.

‘Christopher was a very strong-minded, honest and generous person with a heart of gold and a great sense of humour. His generosity had no bounds. He would rather go without than see someone suffer.

‘The most important thing to Christopher was his family. The last few months of his life he would often talk about his family and all the happy memories they had together. He was a wonderful human being who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, especially his loving family.’

Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Willis, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘This was a violent attack on a defenceless man by two men who showed utter disregard for their victim. Docherty and Johnstone targeted Mr Caesar because they knew he was vulnerable.

‘Their actions were despicable, leaving Christopher with a number of serious injuries including partial paralysis down his left hand side which caused him to need a wheelchair. Although they were not responsible for his death, their collective actions undoubtedly affected his quality of life in the months before he died.

‘In addition the impact upon Christopher’s family cannot be underestimated as they found their lives completely turned upside down.

‘Sadly Christopher was never to see justice served, dying from a pre-existing brain tumour several months before today’s verdicts.

We welcome the sentences imposed and hope they provide some small comfort to Christopher’s family and friends.’

A third man was cleared of involvement in the assault.