While sentencing was adjourned for background reports, father of three Jay Kaycappa, 32, has been was told that a custodial option was a possible option for the two assaults which took place on consecutive days in July 2006.

Kaycappa shook his head in the dock as the verdict was read out by chair of the bench Juliet Smith at Brighton Magistrates Court.

During the three-day trial, the court heard that Kaycappa has 132 previous convictions for dishonesty dating back 17 years. These include 62 convictions for fraud, as well as others including theft, burglary, destruction of a will, perverting the course of justice, obtaining property by deception, driving offences and misuse of a computer to disseminate a bomb threat. Kaycappa has previously used ten different aliases and six different dates of birth.

Kaycappa had been commissioned to follow Lady Mills McCartney for several days in June last year while on shifts for the News of the World and Kent News and Pictures.

Mills McCartney, the estranged wife of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, told the court she was regularly followed by a group of up to 25 photographers while in her home town of Brighton.

“Trapped animal”

She was on a bike ride with two friends and her personal trainer in Brighton on 5th July last year when she had been followed and photographed by three news photographers, including Kaycappa

Mills McCartney then told the court that after being separated from her friends, she headed into a subway near the seafront to avoid the photographers, but found there was already a photographer waiting at the other entrance to the subway.

“I panicked and thought ‘I’ll go back the other way’”, she told the court. “That’s when I turned round and saw Mr Kaycappa”.

“I felt like a trapped animal so I turned into the wall to get on my phone”, said Lady Mills McCartney. She told the court that she had phoned “personal trainer and right-hand man” Benjamin Amigoni to rescue her.

She said that at this point Kaycappa ran in to the tunnel, and placed his hand on her right shoulder and attempted to physically turn her round in order to photograph her. Amigoni, 23, told the court that he had witnessed the alleged assault as he was coming into the subway.

“Yanked” shoulder damaged vertebra

The 39 year old told the court: “I felt a hand on my shoulder. He yanked me round. He hauled me round because I wasn’t letting him get that picture.”

The court also heard that the assault had left her with lasting damage to a vertebra requiring continuing treatment from a chiropractor.

The defence showed the court a twelve minute slideshow of Kaycappa’s 181 original digital camera files, all of which carried specific date and time stamps of when the pictures were taken.

The photographs Kaycappa showed the court showing Mills McCartney entering the subway at 12.45pm, making a telephone call, throwing her bottle of water over the second photographer and walking her bicycle out of the subway entrance, but there was no evidence on the files of the alleged assault.

An expert witness for the prosecution said that while the date and time data on Mr Kaycappa’s images appeared to be accurate, it was possible to falsify date and time metadata after the photographs had been taken.

“A shocking thing to witness’

Kaycappa was also found guilty of a second charge of assault related to an incident the following evening involving Mills McCartney’s friend Mark Payne.

Witness Michael Shilub said: “He pushed Mark and he was yelling obscenities. It was a very shocking thing to witness.”

Kaycappa had claimed that he was only defending himself after being approached by her three male companions, including Payne and Shilub.

Mills-McCartney did not attend court to hear the verdict, but her spokesman said “Heather is delighted that justice has been done and hopes that the photographers who pursue her on a daily basis will now leave her and her daughter alone.”

Kaycappa has been released on bail pending his sentencing next month.