Teenagers convicted of homophobic hate crime

14/09/2017

Three teenagers who pleaded guilty to attacking two passengers on a train because of their sexuality have today been jailed.

The three male youths, two aged 16 and one aged 17, were each sentenced to six months in prison at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on 14 September, after admitting violent disorder and, in one case, possession of an offensive weapon.

In the early hours of 15 February 2017 two men, who are in a relationship, boarded a train from Reading to London and fell asleep. The three defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, got on at Hayes and Harlington.

One of the 16-year-old defendants walked through the carriages and spotted the victims asleep and resting on each other. He went back to inform the other two.

The trio then returned and engaged the victims in a conversation before attacking them. They were punched and kicked several times. One was stamped on whilst the other was hit over the head with a glass bottle. The sustained attack left both victims with extensive bruising to the head and face and one lost two teeth.

Following a British Transport Police investigation, the three defendants were charged and later pleaded guilty to violent disorder. One of them also pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon.

The CPS argued that the attack was motivated by hatred of the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation and asked the court to treat the incident as a homophobic hate crime. This was accepted and each defendant received a four month prison sentence increased to six months because of the hate crime element. They were also each ordered to pay £100 in compensation to each of their victims.

The prosecution also successfully applied for one of the victims and another witness to give evidence from behind a screen to allay their fears about being targeted or intimidated.

Lauranne Middleton District Crown Prosecutor with West Midlands CPS said: "This was a violent assault and we successfully argued that it was fuelled by the defendants’ homophobia.

"Where prosecutors have evidence that an attack was motivated by hostility towards someone’s sexual orientation, they will ask the court to consider this as an aggravating factor which deserves a harsher sentence.

"This successful prosecution demonstrates how seriously the CPS treats such cases and our commitment to bringing offenders of hate crime to justice."

Notes

1. All three attack pleaded guilty to Violent Disorder - on 15/02/2017 used or threatened unlawful violence when present together with others being three or more persons in total who used or threatened unlawful violence and the conduct taken together was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety.

One teenager also pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in public - on 15/02/2017 without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, had with you in a public place, namely a train travelling from Reading Station to London an offensive weapon, namely a bottle.

2. Lauranne Middleton is a District Crown Prosecutor with West Midlands CPS