Clubber may lose eyesight after homophobic bleach attack outside London nightclub
A man may lose his eyesight following a bleach attack outside a London nightclub, doctors have warned, as police appeal for information.
The man, who spoke to the Evening Standard on condition of anonymity, was one of three attacked with a concentrated ammonia solution outside the LightBox club in Vauxhall.
Police have appealed for information, issuing CCTV images of a bearded man and two younger women who they wish to identify in connection with the attack, which took place at 4am on Sunday.
The 23-year-old clubber who has been told by doctors that he may lose his eyesight following the attack, said he and a friend, 21, had begun speaking to the three people, believed to be Eastern European, outside the club, having been refused admission as it was past closing time.
He said the two women then discovered that he and his friend were gay, and started shouting homophobic abuse.
The victim told the Standard: “As we walked away I heard a man shout ‘Oi! Come here.’ At first I thought it was the doorman saying he’d changed his mind and we could go in.
“Then I saw this white guy with a beard, and his hand coming up with a water bottle that he squirted really hard into my face. It went right in my eyes and it sprayed into my friend’s mouth.
“My face was burning so much, I thought it was acid. I thought I would never see again and my face was melting.
“He poured every last drop onto us and then turned around and walked away, like it was mission accomplished.
“The chemical burnt the cornea in my left eye and the vision hasn’t cleared since. The doctors said it should hopefully return but there is no guarantee.
“My friend’s tongue was swollen and it looked like someone had scratched part of it away. It was horrible.”
The victim, who also attended clubs in Leicester Square, continued: “I feel this was a hate crime given where we were and the situation with the two girls.
“What’s playing on my mind is the fact that this guy has left his flat and thought ‘wallet, keys, bottle of bleach.’ The guy has gone out with the intention of blinding someone.”
A third man was also doused with the solution just yards away, shortly after the initial attack. Police suspect that the same man is responsible for both incidents.
A spokesman at Scotland Yard said: “In the first incident, at approximately 4am on Sunday, the substance was sprayed at two men outside the Lightbox nightclub in South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall.
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“This followed a verbal exchange between the two men and a group outside the venue.
“Following comments made during the exchange, this incident is being treated as a homophobic hate crime.
“A short time later, police were made aware of a third man who had also been sprayed in the face with a substance in the vicinity of the nightclub. No motive is known for this incident.
“All three men were treated at hospital and their injuries are not believed to be serious. Officers believe the same man was responsible for both incidents.”
Orange Nation, the company that owns the Lightbox venue in Vauxhall, has issued a statement regarding Sunday’s incident.
Mark Williams from Orange Nation said: “Unfortunately, there was a homophobic attack outside the cafe by Vauxhall Bus Station early on Sunday morning. This was an isolated incident and we have been speaking to police since it occurred, including supplying them with our CCTV footage of the local Vauxhall area. The police have confirmed there is no direct link with the venue or our customers. Our doors were closed at the time of the incident, with no gay events at the Lightbox that morning. Our extensive commitment with the council and Vauxhall One to provide a safe environment for everyone continues. Our thoughts go out to the victims of this awful attack and we wish them a speedy recovery.
The crime is being investigated by the Lambeth Community Safety Unit, which asks that anybody who recognises the people in the image, or can give more information, calls 0208 649 2176 or 07909 906 168.
Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.