Estate agent jailed for vicious Birmingham attack on gay men with glass bottle and metal pipe

Birmingham Crown Court

An estate agent has been handed a prison sentence after he viciously attacked two gay men in Birmingham. 

Usman Murtza, of Victoria Road in Tipton, was standing next to his white Rolls Royce when he approached John-Paul Kesseler and Anthony Smith at 5.13am on 10 October 2021. Kesseler and Smith were on their way back to a hotel after a night out in the city’s Gay Village. 

Thirty-one-year-old Murtza told the pair who were holding hands that they “shouldn’t” be doing it and “not everyone wants to see that”, before launching a horrific attack. 

Murtza proceeded to hit Kesseler with a glass bottle – which left a gash on his face above his eye – and then brandished a metal pipe at the men before striking them on the arms with it as they attempted to defend themselves. 

Members of the public sought to intervene and Murtza drove off, with paramedics attending Kesseler who had to have his head wound glued in hospital.

The attack left Kesseler angry that he and Smith were targeted “because of who we are, queer men”. 

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In a statement, Kesseler called Murtza a “homophobe” who “couldn’t contain the hate he had for us” and described the look on Murtza’s face during the attack as the “purest distillation of hatred I have ever seen”. 

Kesseler, who is a student, said his studies had suffered as a result of the attack and he also began to self-medicate by going on nights out and drinking an increased amount of alcohol. 

Smith said he does not feel safe holding his current partner’s hand in public or leaving gay bars and clubs in Birmingham following the attack. 

‘Stupid and dangerous behaviour’

Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (21 July), the court heard Murtza was “unreservedly sorry and ashamed” for what he had done, saying he has gay friends himself and can empathise with the victims because he experiences “hostility” for being Asian.  

“I would like to offer my very sincere apologies to John-Paul Kesseler and Anthony Smith for my stupid and dangerous behaviour,” Murtza said in a statement.

“I’m sorry you were the victims of my behaviour and I’m sorry you were injured as a result and you will remember everything that evening from the moment I interrupted you

“I am not proud of what I did. My parents are struggling to show support. I am unreservedly sorry and ashamed.”

His defence, Richard Butler, told the court Murtza was a businessman who was married and had a child. 

The attack, Butler said, was “wholly out of character” for him and something he is “deeply ashamed” of. 

Earlier this year, the father of one abandoned his trial and admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault by beating.

Murtza was given a 16 month prison sentence by the court, which was uplifted due to the homophobic nature of the attack

“This was a persistent offence aggravated by the demonstration of hostility towards sexual orientation and it had a significant effect on two innocent victims. I don’t feel appropriate punishment can be achieved with a suspended sentence,” recorder Paul McGrath said.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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