Detectives believe they have uncovered new evidence relating to a homophobic attack which left a man with serious head injuries this year.

Greater Manchester Police are appealing for help in identifying four men from CCTV pictures believed to be responsible for a hate crime in which two men were seriously assaulted in Manchester City Centre in the early hours of March 18 2006.

At about 4.20am that morning a 40-year-old man and his 22-year-old friend were standing outside Cruz 101 on Princess Street, Manchester, when four men approached shouting homophobic abuse at them before walking on towards the takeaway shops on Bloom Street.

About half an hour later at approximately 5am the two men encountered the same group of four at the junction of Silver Street and Chorlton Street. Encouraged by his friends, one of the men then attacked the younger man, before turning on the 40-year-old who attempted to defend himself. As he tried to pick up his scarf from the floor, his attacker hit him hard on the head three times causing him to collapse. The four men then left together.

Following this incident the man was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary for treatment of serious head injuries. He was then transferred to the intensive care unit at Hope Hospital. He is now being cared for on a high dependency ward in Merseyside, such was the severity of his injuries.

“Greater Manchester Police take matters of this nature very seriously and will not tolerate any instances of homophobic abuse. Any members of the community who come forward to help with this case will be treated in the strictest of confidence,” said Detective Chief Inspector Jon Betts who has been working on the case.

If you are one of the men pictured, or you know who they are, please contact CID at Bootle Street police station on 0161 856 3240 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.