Perpetrator in homophobic McDonald’s attack claims it wasn’t a hate crime

Police officers stand guard in the city centre during local lockdown on July 04, 2020 in Leicester, England.

The attacker of two queer women who were targeted outside a McDonald’s in Leicester city centre has claimed it wasn’t a hate crime. 

On 2 June at around 3.15am, two LGBTQ+ women were verbally abused and physically attacked outside the fast food restaurant on Market Street.

Their attacker has been named Tia Lyall Clarke, 19, who was out with a friend.

CCTV footage shown at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Monday (16 October) documented the attack, which was launched by Clarke after two men she and her friend had met while out told her they intended to go to a nightclub with the two female victims. 

Prosecutor Ryan Houghton said one of the two victims had told Clarke they were both gay and not interested in the men in that way. 

He said Clarke responded by calling the victim who spoke out homophobic insults that left her “very upset”, before Clarke and her friend physically attacked both women 

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The attack, which spilled out into Horsefair Street, stopping traffic, went on for about three-and-a-half minutes before Leicester Police arrived, as reported by Leicestershire Live.

Houghton told the court that the initial verbal abuse had a serious impact on the victim.

“It made her feel like she couldn’t love and be accepted like everyone else,” he said.

“It continued to play on her mind after she returned home.”

‘She is extremely remorseful for her actions’

Clarke’s solicitor, Abigail Wright, shared an apology with the court.

Of Clarke, Wright said: “She is extremely remorseful for her actions and the way she made the victims feel. This wasn’t a hate crime.

“The matter would have escalated despite the fact the couple were gay.”

Wright said Clarke’s violence was partly due to an abusive relationship Clarke had been in at the time and to the consumption of “a considerable amount of alcohol”.

The chair of the bench, Anne Cowan, said it was a “sustained incident” and that an abusive relationship “does not allow you to be violent to other people”. 

Clarke was ordered to pay both women £150 in compensation and handed a 12-month community order. 

She was also ordered to do 210 hours of unpaid work. Her friend was sentenced to a community order and fined at an earlier hearing. 

Clarke was given a police caution for a similar incident in February this year. Since her arrest in June, bail conditions had banned her from Leicester city centre between 7pm and 7am each night.

Data released by the Home Office in early October found that there was a slight decrease in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in 2022-2023, compared to the previous year. However, transphobic hate crimes rose by 11 per cent in that same period.

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.