Merseyside Police have released CCTV images of four teenage boys wanted in connection with a homophobic assault on a gay student.

The 19-year-old was attacked on Wednesday, November 18th on Lord Street near James Street Station.

The assault happened just before 7pm when he passed a group of youths outside a Tesco supermarket.

It is thought that up to six boys took part in the attack, which left him with a broken nose.

Police said the boys followed the student up the street, shouting abuse and punching him. He was able to get onto a train and call police on his way home.

The attack follows the gang beating of trainee policeman James Parkes, who was hospitalised with a fractured skull when he was set on by teenagers last month in the city’s gay village.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo last week, the student estimated the boys to be aged between 12 and 14.

He said: “Sadly, it’s something that happens all the time in Liverpool, I expect it now.

“I was bombarded with punches, I didn’t know where they were coming from. They were shouting, ‘what the f**k are you wearing?!’

“I can’t even get on the train without suffering abuse. It’s everywhere I go. I wear colourful stuff, and lipstick, but if I didn’t it would be restricting how I want to be.”

Detective Sergeant Cheryl Rhodes from the Liverpool North Sigma unit, said: “This was a nasty, unprovoked attack on an innocent man by a gang of young lads who decided to pick on someone because they were dressed differently. Homophobic abuse was hurled at him by some while others threw punches at his head, knocking him over.

“This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police and we are determined to catch those responsible. Lord Street was still very busy that Wednesday night, with lots of people going in and out of Tescos, where this group were congregating. There would also have been many people walking to catch buses or trains after work.

“Someone will have seen the incident and someone will recognises the group caught on CCTV that we want to talk to in relation to it and I would appeal for them to come forward with the information we need to investigate.

“The response from the public in coming forward about incidents of hate crime has increased since the incident in Stanley Street last month and we want that to continue because only with the help and support of them can we bring those responsible to justice and send out a clear message that hate crime will not be tolerated in Merseyside.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or can identify the people in the CCTV should contact Merseyside Police’s Sigma team on 0151 777 4837 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.