Gay couple savagely attacked outside their home by gang who circled them ‘like hyenas’

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A gay couple has been savagely attacked outside their home in a suspected homophobic attack prompted by one of the men’s brightly coloured shoes.

Decorator Andrew Leonard and barrister Julian Smith were set upon by a gang who kicked Andrew to the floor and then circled the pair “like hyenas”.

Julian, 53, told the Evening Standard that his assailants were “vicious,” adding that “we could have had a fatality quite easily.”

The Londoner, who is a Unitarian minister at the Brixton chapel where his partner is chairman of trustees, was hit in the face and also knocked to the ground during the attack.

Andrew, a 49-year-old decorator from Essex, lost four teeth in the attack, and has a suspected broken cheekbone and nose.

The pair said that the group of at least four men had aggressively confronted them about their sexuality in the car park of their Waterloo apartment block.

They were returning home from the Chelsea Arts Club on Saturday night, with Andrew wearing bright orange shoes, when they first realised that something was wrong.

Julian said: “As we approached the block, we could hear these barking noises, really aggressive, so we were reticent as we got in.

“When we walked through I think we spooked them a little bit because they were drinking.

“Then they started calling us poofs, and saying: ‘Is this your boyfriend?’ and ‘F****** hell, what are you wearing?’

julian smith linkedin
Julian Smith (Linkedin)

“I haven’t heard poof for a while, it was quite old fashioned,” he added.

They were almost in their block when Julian decided he couldn’t just let the homophobic abuse go.

He turned around and tried to talk them down.

“I told them, we’re a couple of middle aged gay guys, it’s not a very brave thing to try and intimidate us.

“They weren’t kids, they were in their mid-twenties. I think that encouraged us to try and reason with them a bit more.

“Then one of them took my glasses and smacked me in the face.”

Julian, who together with Andrew runs the pro-bono Brixton Legal Centre out of their chapel, recalled: “They kicked Andrew like a kick-boxer straight in the face.

“He was on the floor and out of it.

Andrew Leonard
Andrew Leonard

“I’m trying to protect Andrew and they are circling around like hyenas. They were vicious little s****. We could have had a fatality quite easily.

“I’ve got a really mashed lip, it’s not just cut it is pulverised, it’s like jelly.

“I might have to have some cosmetic work if I can afford it,” he added.

Police are treating the incident as a suspected hate crime, adding that no arrests have yet been made.

Andrew condemned the fact that there was no CCTV coverage of the attack, saying: “I just feel really fed up, wary of where I live and quite demoralised.

“The council has repeatedly failed to address the CCTV blackspot in this area. Their poor performance and contempt is off the scale.”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “We condemn this cowardly hate crime and are supporting police investigations.

“Lambeth has invested heavily in CCTV, with more than 270 fixed cameras on our estates. We have also recently introduced extra mobile cameras to further tackle offending hotspots.”