A young woman was kicked and punched by two teenage girls after defending her gay brother from their homophobic abuse.

Kea Clarke, 22, from Topsham, was walking with her brother Rowan through Exeter city centre between 3.30am and 4am on Sunday morning.

She told the Exeter Express and Echo the teenagers had been shouting homophobic insults at Rowan, 21.

When Clarke told them: “So what if my brother is gay?”, one of the girls punched her in the face. After Clarke tried to laugh off the attack, they hit her until she fell to the ground, where they began kicking her.

When she managed to scramble to her feet to flee, an object was thrown at the back of her head.

Clarke, who was left with heavy bruising, said she was “shocked” that people could be so homophobic and added she would not go out in Exeter again.

Police are appealing for any witnesses of the attack, in Sidwell Street near St Sidwell’s Church, to come forward.

The teenage girls, who Clarke believed were drunk, were both described as having dark hair.

Anyone with information should call police on 08452 777444, quoting crime reference number DE/09/9633.