Ian Baynham’s family: ‘His only crime was to stand up for who he was’

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The family of a gay man killed in a homophobic attack say his only crime was to stand up for who he was.

Ian Baynham, 62, died in hospital two weeks after he was attacked on a night out in Trafalgar Square in 2009 by teenagers who shouted homophobic abuse at him.

Yesterday, Ruby Thomas, 19, and Joel Alexander, 20, were sentenced to seven and six years in prison for his manslaughter.

Another girl, 18-year-old Rachael Burke, was sentenced to two years in prison for affray.

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Baynham’s sister Jenny said: “My brother was an ordinary, honest, decent man, loved by his family, especially our mother, and his many friends.

“His only crime seems to have been to stand up for who he was, and it is impossible to make sense of the dreadful events that led to his death. The outcome of this trial may help us deal with our loss but nothing will bring him back.”

Ms Baynham also thanked police and prosecutors for their support.

George Richardson, a close friend of Mr Baynham, added: “Ian’s death resulted from an attack motivated by homophobia.

“Mindless violence generated by a total absence of tolerance and fuelled, as we now so often see, by alcohol. It has pointlessly robbed myself and others of an excellent friend.

“Ian died because he was proud and honest about who he was.

“I can only hope this will encourage all victims of hate crime, however perpetrated, to report these to the police, so they have the statistics and the resources to deal with every case as effectively as they have dealt with this one.”

Thomas and Alexander will serve their sentences in young offender institutes.

Thomas, who screamed “faggots” as she kicked an unconscious Mr Baynham, had an extra year added to her sentence for the homophobic aspect of the attack.

There was no suggestion that Alexander, who said he hit Mr Baynham to protect her, had been homophobic.

According to reports, Thomas tried to pass Ms Baynham a letter in court yesterday but Ms Baynham declined to read it, saying afterwards that it was “too little, too late”.

Judge Richard Hawkins told the trio: “This was a case of mindless drink-fuelled violence committed in public.”

“You, Ruby Thomas, started the matter. You have a previous conviction for drunken loutish behaviour and you have demonstrated hostility towards Ian Baynham based upon his sexual orientation or presumed sexual orientation.”