A gay man whose home was torched by a prolific young thug as he and his partner slept inside has said he is still haunted by the attack.
Nick Hughes battled the fire which started when Sonny Lockwood poured petrol through the letter box his home in New Addington, Croydon before igniting it with a parachute flare.
While he fought the flames naked, he ordered his partner Peter Cameron to remain in their bedroom with the door closed, thinking he would have a better chance of survival.
Lockwood, 20, allegedly targeted the couple in retaliation to the pair testifying against him at an earlier ASBO hearing.
On Friday, Lockwood he was jailed for ten years for the “murderous” attack.
Today, Mr Hughes, 41, told thisiscroydontoday.co.uk: “This will hopefully strengthen the resolve of those who are under the thumb of hate crime to come forward and be counted.
“There’s a real fear among all minority groups that crimes perpetrated [against them] are somehow their fault – but it’s not.”
When questioned about whether he could forgive Lockwood for the arson attack he said: “For forgiveness to be earned there must be remorse shown. I’ve not seen that remorse yet – from any of the Lockwood family.”
In October last year, Mr Hughes says he experienced what was probably the worst day of his life when he had to testify in the trial at Croydon Crown Court.
He said: “The jury had to see me vulnerable – but also strong.
“In all of this I have not made any attempt to hide who I am. To hide is to give into the bullies.”
His testimony helped secure Lockwood’s conviction for arson with intent to endanger life.
Mr Hughes told thisiscroydontoday.co.uk that ever since he and Mr Cameron, 59, had moved to North Downs Crescent, they had faced homophobic abuse from Lockwood and his gang.
Lockwood’s then attacked the couple’s home at 4am on January 24.
Since the attack, both men have taken anti-depressants and time off work, which has left them unable to make mortgage repayments.