A gang of 10 teenagers beat two men unconscious in a “despicable” assault in Bishop’s Stortford, England, that comes amid surging hate crime.
A 22-year-old man was knocked unconscious and suffered multiple fractures to his cheek, eye socket and nose while a 25-year-old suffered bruising and lacerations across his face, a split eyebrow and fractures to his jaw and hand.
The attack took place in the early hours of Sunday (8 August) at a Waitrose car park in the historic market town in Hertfordshire.
The victims were waiting for a ride home when the gang of youths, thought to be aged between 16 and 17, approached them at 2:20am and began hurling homophobic insults and jabs.
Both victims were rushed to Harlow’s Princess Alexandra Hospital by ambulance as the group fled the scene.
‘Despicable’ hate crime ‘will not be tolerated’, says police
Detectives have issued an appeal for witnesses and are treating the incident as a hate crime.
Inspector Gary Bangs, from the East Herts local crime unit, told The Sun: “This despicable attack was completely unprovoked and left both men with serious injuries.
“They are being supported by specially trained hate crime officers at what is understandably a very difficult time.”
Bangs asked witness who saw a large group of people in the area around the time of the attack to come forward.
“Any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could greatly assist our enquiries,” he added.
“Hate crime can have a devastating impact on victims and the wider community as a whole and will simply not be tolerated.”
A Hertfordshire police spokesperson added: “Hertfordshire Constabulary is determined to ensure that LGBT+ communities feel comfortable to approach the force should they ever need to and build confidence within them that they will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.
“As part of this, the constabulary has LGBT+ liaison officers who are based all over the county and have been specially trained to support people from LGBT+ communities.”
England has grappled in recent years with rocketing hate crime rates. Between 2015 and 2018, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes more than doubled in England and Wales.
Across these four years, the rate of LGBT+ hate crime, including offences such as harassment, assault and stalking, climbed up by 144 per cent.