A local paper has won the right to name a homophobic bully who assaulted a gay 15-year-old boy.
The South Shields Gazette appealed to magistrates at South Tyneside Youth Court to lift the automatic anonymity the law grants to offenders under 18, in order to publicise the hate crime.
16-year-old Darren Murray, of Kirkstone Avenue, Jarrow, led a gang of six teenagers who set upon the 15-year-old as he walked along the A19 in Jarrow on May 9th.
The brave gay teenager walked past the gang, who were shouting homophobic abuse at him, but when one of the gang punched the teen, Murphy led a sustained and savage attack.
The teenager was kicked in the groin and punched, but managed to escape. He took refuge in some bushes and then ran to a friend’s house, where his horrified mother collected him and alerted police.
Two members of the gang, aged 14 and 17, were convicted last week.
Magistrates were not moved by appeals from Murray’s lawyer to spare him a jail sentence.
Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said: “In many ways custody will be easier than the challenge and discipline that a community order will involve.
“In many ways it will be a case of just counting off the days.”
But magistrates sentenced Murray to six months in a young offenders institution and another six months under a supervision order.
After sentencing, representatives of The South Shields Gazette successfully argued that Murray should not be protected from identification.
The 17-year-old gang member was given a six month curfew, a year’s community punishment order and was ordered to pay costs totalling £125.
The 14-year-old was let off with a caution.
Well done to the journalists at The South Shields Gazette, the UK’s oldest provincial newspaper, for following this case and successfully arguing in front of magistrates that homophobic bullies should not be protected by the law.
The victim of this attack was only 15, and it should be a reminder to all of us that even with civil partnerships, an equalised age of consent and the abolition of Section 28, gay kids up and down the UK still face abuse and physical attack on a daily basis.