Gay couple suffer brain injury and facial fracture after brutal attack in London
A married gay couple who have been fighting for “safe” housing in London for five years have been hospitalised after they were allegedly attacked by a neighbour’s partner and friends while staying in council-mandated temporary accommodation.
Andrew and Gustavo Williams-Coleman have been campaigning the local council in Brent, north west London, for better accommodation for half a decade, saying they felt unsafe in the area they were living and felt targeted because they are gay.
The couple were placed in a temporary accommodation, the Euro Hotel in Wembley, on June 1.
The Williams-Colemans told PinkNews they were viciously attacked on Wednesday. Andrew was stabbed in the ear and has a small brain bleed. His husband, Gustavo, suffered a facial fracture that will require numerous surgeries.
Andrew said that one of their neighbours in the temporary housing had been hurtling homophobic abuse at them since their arrival. Things escalated when, on Wednesday, the neighbour allegedly said she would fine someone to “kill the gay c**ts.”
Andrew has cancer and mobility problems, while his husband has learning difficulties.
They say that their neighbour, a 31-year-old woman, had been hurling homophobic abuse at them since they were housed at the Euro Hotel at the beginning of June.
Andrew was stabbed in the ear and has a small bleed to the brain (Andrew Williams-Coleman)”The homophobic language she used was disgusting. For a week she has been knocking on our door, and shouting things outside our room at all hours. She called us disgusting AIDS-carrying pigs and queer c**ts,” Andrew told PinkNews.
“She told other guests that she was enjoying doing it.”
The couple claim that the hotel manager witnessed the incidents and let the men into the property.
On Wednesday evening, the couple said that the woman told them they would have to fight for their lives.
“About about 5pm she shouted she was going to get Gustavo and I killed,” Andrew said.
Fifteen minutes later, Andrew said that three men, including the woman’s partner, entered the room, and one of them revealed a knife that was hidden up his sleeve.
It was then he went to stab Andrew, while the others attacked Gustavo.
It was only when a neighbour entered the room that the three fled, and the couple called the police.
“We told the manager, but they wouldn’t tell anyone about it, not the council, not the police. We are just feeling totally numb and shocked,” said Andrew.
“It’s disgusting. Nobody has a right to do anything like that to anyone.”
The 31-year-old woman reportedly threatened other tenants that if they spoke about the attack they would be shot, Andrew told PinkNews.
There was a stabbing at the woman’s address three days prior to the incident, the couple told PinkNews.
“The police were meant to come round to take photos but they haven’t shown up,” Andrew told PinkNews.
The Metropolitan Police did not immediately respond to PinkNews’ request for comment.
A Brent Council spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to hear that this crime has taken place. This will be a matter for the police and we will be liaising with them and cooperating with their investigation.”
William Michelin, general manager at London Hotel Group, which operates the Euro Hotel Wembley, told PinkNews that the hotel is not aware of any altercation taking place on its premises.
“The main issues are that they are not hotel guests. They are from Brent Council on temporary accommodation,” said Michelin.
“Neither parties reported non-guests entering other residents’ house/rooms. Neither parties reported that they were being verbally assaulted. It is our understanding that any arguments have taken place outside the properties, on the street … never inside.
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“Brent Council was informed of the ‘disturbance’ (as reported to us by Mr Coleman) and we requested that both accommodation [placements] be cancelled. The council asked us to ‘monitor’ the situation and to report of any further developments.”
Andrew and Gustavo are currently recuperating in hospital, where Andrew will require draining of the bleed on his brain. Gustavo’s extensive facial fracture will require four surgeries, the couple said.
Andrew and Gustavo have previously spoken to PinkNews about their battle to find a home in the London borough.
“This is a an extremely concerning attack. It raises questions about the duty of housing authorities to prevent anti-LGBT attacks of this sort,” Galop’s Head of Hate Crime Services Nick Antjoule told PinkNews.
“We are working with Andrew and his husband to provide assistance and are talking with the Metropolitan Police. No one should have to face violence, hatred and bigotry like this.”