A father has hit out at vile trolls who mocked a sweet picture of his little girl eating her birthday cake. Megan Gavin, who has Down’s syndrome, was called a ‘downie’ and a ‘retard’ by cruel commenters online. Her proud dad, Scott, shared the picture of his daughter to celebrate her first birthday last week and was ‘distraught’ to see the sick messages. One read: ‘Kids in Africa are starving and you’re wasting cake on a child too retarded to know what it is.’ Scott, from Kirkby, Merseyside, said he was ‘mortified’ when he read the abuse but decided to turn his anger into something positive. He told Metro.co.uk: ‘My shock went straight to anger. Obviously I wanted to go and find these people.

Megan Gavin gets stuck into her birthday cake (Picture: Scott Gavin)

Parents Leanne and Scott Gavin were disgusted by the sick comments (Picture: Scott Gavin)

Little Megan Gavin with the family’s massive pet dog (Picture: Scott Gavin)

‘But after a few hours of sitting down and thinking, I thought I’m not going to let some idiot make me angry and ruin my baby’s day. ‘So I’ve turned it into a positive thing and decided from now on I’m going to educate the uneducated idiots. ‘I’m going to share the love and I’ll do that by sharing pictures of Megan.’ Scott won £26,000 on the Great British Benefit Handout television show in 2017, and used the money to transform his home into a mini-zoo and set up his own business called Party Central Entertainments. The father-of-six said he often shows exotic animals to children with special needs and hears similar shocking stories of online abuse from other parents. He added: ‘We hear it all the time from the mums, it’s heartbreaking.

Little Megan turned one last week (Picture: Scott Gavin)

‘I don’t understand why people see them differently. I don’t understand it.’ Scott says hate crimes against people with disabilities are getting ‘worse and worse’ because ‘prosecution levels are down’. Earlier this year disability charity Leonard Cheshire found recorded incidents of hate crimes against disabled people had gone up by almost a third (33 per cent) between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Despite the number of reported hate crimes going up, only six per cent of cases were prosecuted, which is down from eight per cent the previous year. The charity also surveyed disabled people and found 70 per cent of those who had experienced hate crimes online were targeted through Facebook. More than one in five victims (22 per cent) said it happened via email.

Megan Gavin with her older brothers and sisters (Picture: Scott Gavin)

Worryingly, 36 per cent of victims told nobody at all about the incident. Leonard Cheshire’s chief executive Neil Heslop warned the incidents could be the tip of the iceberg. He said: ‘Police are increasingly recording online offences, but we know it remains an under reported area and that disabled people may have reservations about speaking out. ‘We suspect many crimes remain under the radar, with survivors never getting support and perpetrators facing no consequences.

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