A photographer was spared a jail term today and sentenced to a 140 hour community order for assaulting Heather Mills-McCartney in a subway as he tried to take her picture.
Jay Kaycappa, 32, grabbed the estranged wife of ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney by her right shoulder to swing her round and take her photograph.
After a three-day trial at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, Kaycappa was convicted of assaulting Mills-McCartney on 5 July last year and her friend Mark Payne the following evening.
Today, chairwoman of the bench Juliet Smith sentenced Kaycappa, of The Hurdles, Fareham, Hampshire, to a 12-month community order consisting of 140 hours unpaid work concurrent on each count of assault.
The father-of-three was also ordered to pay Mills-McCartney £100 and Mr Payne £50 and costs of £1,000.
The magistrate told him: “In both incidents you demonstrated persistence that in fact we consider to be beyond an acceptable level. However your actions have not caused any injury.”
Magistrates heard during the trial that the assault took place as Mills-McCartney cycled to Brighton from her seafront home on the exclusive Western Esplanade in Hove, East Sussex, accompanied by her personal trainer Ben Amigoni, 23, Payne and his partner Michael Shilub.
The 39-year-old former model and anti-landmines campaigner, who was not in court today, told the court she ducked into the subway to avoid the paparazzi but was alarmed when she spotted a photographer at the subway’s exit.
She told Kaycappa’s defence lawyer Anya Lewis: “I panicked and thought I’ll go back the other way and that’s when I turned round and saw Mr Kaycappa.
“I felt concerned … because I had one there and one there and I felt like a trapped animal so I turned into the wall to get on my phone.”
During the trial, prosecutor Dale Sullivan accused Kaycappa and another photographer of hunting Ms Mills-McCartney “like a pack of animals”.
Lewis said the time- and date-stamped sequence of photographs taken by Kaycappa suggested Mills-McCartney had lied about events.
His photographs suggested she left the subway by the south exit and appeared to show her chatting with her friends after the assault, apparently contradicting her evidence that she fled the subway out of the north exit, it was claimed.
The prosecutor suggested a four-second gap in Kaycappa’s quick-fire series of 181 photographs was when he carried out the assault.
Kaycappa contested the timings, and said it was in fact a two-second gap.
He also said it would have been a “pointless exercise” to get too close to Ms Mills-McCartney because newspapers were not interested in a close up shot.
Kaycappa said: “The main photograph is Heather on her bike with someone who we didn’t know who he was.”
He also said the lens he was using was not suitable for getting a good shot at close range and he took a photograph in court – which is prohibited – to demonstrate his point.
Police imaging expert Martin Bloomfield of Sussex Police said the date and time data on Kaycappa’s images appeared to be accurate and that it was likely he had used a telephoto lens, which is incapable of taking a full-length image at less than 6ft from the subject.
Photographer Stephen Lawrence, who was also in the subway, told the court Kaycappa never entered the subway and photographed Ms Mills-McCartney from the entrance. Mr Lawrence said she threw water over him as he left.
Kaycappa, during heated exchanges with the prosecutor, likened Ms Mills-McCartney to the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and also referred to newspaper reports suggesting she was once a prostitute.
The following evening, Kaycappa said he felt “threatened” as three of Mills-McCartney’s male friends came towards him to prevent him from taking photographs of her.
The photographer, who the court heard has a total of 132 criminal convictions for dishonesty offences, said he did not push Mr Payne but put his hand up to protect his camera equipment.
aycappa’s solicitor, Justin Rivett, said his client would be appealing against the conviction. He said the offences were “out of character” for him and that no injury was caused.
Of the assault on Mills-McCartney, Rivett said: “This wasn’t a case where there was a punch or even a push, or a specific aggressive act which was intended to cause harm.
“That wasn’t the case. He hadn’t intended to cause any injury. It was to get a photograph.
“In relation to the other assault that occurred the day after, it was as a result of Mr Kaycappa trying to get another photograph of Ms Mills-McCartney by trying to push the gentleman out of the way.
“But again, I would suggest, it was not an act deliberately designed to cause harm. It was in pursuit of a photograph.”
Rivett added that following publicity surrounding the case, Kaycappa has experienced difficulty in finding work, with newspapers and news agencies distancing themselves from him for fear of harming their reputations.
Andrea Watts, prosecuting, said Kaycappa was a photographer who had been “particularly persistent in making it difficult for (Mills-McCartney) to have a private life outside her home”.