Police have arrested and bailed two men in connection with the fatal assault of a gay man outside a Chester gay bar.

Ronald Hayes, aged 63 from Morpeth in Northumberland suffered serious injuries following an assault near to the Liverpool Arms Bar, in Northgate Street at around 12.50am on Saturday 23 November 2013.

Mr Hayes lived with his male partner on a smart, modern estate at Widdrington Station, near Morpeth.

A murder enquiry has been launched and two men both aged 26 and from nearby Ellesmere Port have been arrested and bailed pending further inquiries.

Police say they are investigating numerous lines of enquiry but detectives are understood to be looking into whether Mr Hayes was the victim of a homophobic attack.

The pub bills itself as “Chester’s only full time gay venue”.

In a statement issued by police, Ronald’s family said: “Those closest to Ronald describe him as a doting partner, father and grandfather whose spirit and energy was infectious. He had a drive for life that outweighed his years. We are all deeply saddened.”

It is understood that Mr Hayes had been in the Liverpool Arms bar during the course of the evening, and was attacked after leaving the premises. It is believed his attackers were in the bar during the evening.

He was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital in a critical condition, and subsequently placed on a ventilator. The ventilator was switched off shortly before 1pm on Monday.

Sergeant Andrew Burrage, from Chester Police, said: “People will understandably have concerns following this incident.

“I would like to reassure the communities of Chester that extra patrols will be visible in the area to answer any questions people may have. Inquiries are ongoing, and at this stage we are keeping an open mind, and it is too early to speculate on a motive for this attack.”

Police are continuing to ask anyone who was in the Liverpool Arms bar, or the area of Northgate Street where the attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning, and who may have any information of relevance, to contact Chester police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident number 50 of 23/11/2013.

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