Homophobic thugs spared jail after threatening to brutally murder a gay man with a meat cleaver and claw hammer

Homophobic thugs walk free after threatening to brutally murder a gay man

Two homophobes who drove their gay neighbour out of his home after threatening to kill him with a meat cleaver, claw hammer and boiling kettle have been spared jail.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the litany of sinister threats made by Joao Alves, 72, and Ivan Bonaparte, 29, in the months leading up to July.

The sustained ordeal caused the victim “huge” psychological damage and eventually forced him to move out of his bedsit in a house they shared in Southport, Merseyside.

“He believed that was due to his sexuality. On occasion, he had heard the defendants describe gay people in offensive terms,” said David Birrell, prosecuting.

For example, on one occasion in July the victim returned home to find Alves wielding a meat cleaver in the communal hallway, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Raising the cleaver above his head as if to strike the man, he said: “You f****t. If you ever slam the doors again, I will kill you.”

The victim was “paralysed with fear”, then fled to his bedroom, locked the door and sent a text message to his landlord, but didn’t receive a reply.

When he left to get the police, Alves shouted from his window: “Yeah, go to the police, son of a b***h, then I kill you.”

‘I will kill you. That will be one less gay in the world.’

Five days later on 15 July, Bonaparte followed the victim into the kitchen with a claw hammer and closed the door behind him. He boiled a kettle of water and said: “How about I kill you now and pour boiling water on you?”

He started banging the weapon menacingly on the kitchen surface and told his neighbour he hated him.

Then, resting the hammer against the man’s cheek, he said: “Go and tell the police that I threatened you. Tomorrow it will be me calling the police to come and pick up your body, because I will kill you. That will be one less gay in the world.”

When arrested Alves denied threatening the man with the cleaver and called him a liar, but confessed to calling him gay, and to threatening him with a knife from his window.

Bonaparte admitted to threatening the victim with the hammer and kettle, but said he only intended to scare him and didn’t make any homophobic remarks.

Both men were charged with threats to kill but admitted the lesser offence of affray, which prosecutors accepted.

Judge: Thugs suffered enough in lockdown.

Alves’ defence cited his “previous good character” and claimed he was now very remorseful. The incident was blamed on “frictions” in the house, exacerbated by Alves’ drinking, which led his temper to get the better of him.

Bonaparte, who has five previous convictions for eight offences including grievous bodily harm and common assault, accepted everything in the victim’s statement – bar the homophobic remarks.

“The reason he didn’t accept them at that time was shame,” said Jason Smith, defending. “He knows how disgraceful those comments were and he’s ashamed that he made them.”

Smith said his client was depressed after losing his job and being on the verge of losing his home due to COVID-19. “Quite simply, he snapped,” he said.

Astonishingly, the pair walked free after judge Thomas Teague decided their time spent on remand during the coronavirus crisis was punishment enough.

He acknowledged that the victim’s sexuality formed the “sole motive” for the abuse, but said he didn’t think the defendants were a danger to the public.

He added it was “fortunate” that they had served the equivalent of two- and four-month sentences respectively, during “unpleasant” lockdown restrictions.

“That equates to significantly more punishment than the figures alone might suggest,” the judge said.

He gave both men five-year restraining orders, 100 hours of unpaid work, 15 and 20-hour Rehabilitation Activity Requirements, and ordered them to each pay the victim £500 compensation.