A gay army veteran has been praised for helping thwart a homophobic attack on a London bus.
Police released a chilling account of the March 25 incident onboard a N87 London night bus in Wandsworth Road, Lambeth.
It is alleged that a man began swearing at other passengers on the bus and making homophobic remarks – before physically assaulting them when asked to stop, repeatedly punching one man to the floor.
Footage recorded by a passenger appears to show the suspect yelling abuse in an altercation with other passengers and physically grappling with them.
Army veteran Lee Wardle had challenged the man and attempted to prevent the man from attacking anyone else.
Wardle, a former Grenadier Guardsman who served in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, told the London Evening Standard: “A guy was sat on the top deck just in front of me having a really loud, obnoxious conversation using a lot of homophobic language.
“I think he said faggots should be killed. It was very distressing language.”
The army veteran and another passenger, Adam, asked the man to stop, but the suspect responded by punching the other man in the head, knocking him to the floor.
Wardle told the Standard: “He didn’t hit me, but he went for me and I warned him that it wasn’t a good idea. I’m quite a tall guy.
“Adam was a smaller and easier target. He was punched repeatedly and eventually knocked out.”
He added: “This guy needs educating. He can’t think that he has got away with it. I refuse to let him think that he has got away with it.”
Explaining why he got involved, Wardle said: “I have heard it all before, but I was concerned that there were other people on the bus.”
There have been no arrests.
Wardle, a barman at gay bar Halfway 2 Heaven, told the newspaper: “I just want him caught before he seriously hurts.”
A public appeal put out by the Metropolitan Police states: “Detectives have released CCTV pictures of a man they would like to speak to following a homophobic assault on board a bus in Lambeth.
“The assault happened at around 04:15hrs on Sunday, 25 March on board a N87 bus on Wandsworth Road, SW8.
“Members of the public were seated on the top deck of the bus when they overheard the suspect sitting in front of them swearing and making homophobic remarks.
“When asked to refrain from making such remarks, the suspect then proceeded to assault three passengers on the bus.
“The suspect is described as a black man with a shaved head and goatee beard wearing a smart blue suit, black shoes and grey scarf.”
Detective Constable Sarah Bunting of the Met’s Road & Transport Policing Command said: “This man is sought in connection with a homophobic assault on a bus.
“If you know who this man is, or may be able to assist us in our investigation, please call 101 and quote CAD 1045/25Mar18.
“The Met will not tolerate any form of hate crime and we strongly urge anyone who has been a victim of this sort of situation to call police and report it.”