Four teenage boys who subjected a gay couple to a sustained harassment and abuse have pleaded guilty to public order offences.

The youths, aged between 14 and 16, followed the two men around a branch of Marks Spencer in Beckenham, Kent, hurling abuse at them and threatening them with physical violence.

A magistrate has given one of the boys a conditional discharge and another a referral order. Two await sentencing.

The Bromley Extra reports that one of the victims stumbled over a shop display in an attempt to escape the abuse, which the prosecutor said was clearly homophobic.

Bromley Youth Court heard how the youths shouted words like “batty boy” and “queers” at the men.

A 14-year-old squared up to one of the men and said:

“Go on, let me hit you. I really want to hit you,” according to the Extra.

The defence lawyer for one of the boys said her client knew he was being immature and he wanted to: “apologise to the court and pass on his apologies to the victims.”

However, Ann Mowat, chair of the bench, said the attack had been sustained and nasty.

Both boys who received sentence were released conditionally, but if they re-offend they can be re-tried for their homophobic crimes.