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Gay primary school teacher left ‘emotionally drained’ after thugs shoot BB guns at his house for months on end

Emma Powys Maurice October 3, 2020

The attacks have caused significant property damage, as well as psychological stress (Envato Elements)

A gay primary school teacher says he and his husband have been left “emotionally drained” by a series of sustained attacks on their home with a BB gun.

Antonio Silvestri, 49, and his partner David Bennett, 47, have been targeted by an unknown assailant almost every day since April this year.

In the past six months their home in Caterham, Surrey has been shot with ball bearings more than 70 times, with the attacks sometimes lasting all day. The projectiles have smashed windows and gutters and caused the couple significant psychological distress.

“The psychological impact has been enormous,” Silvestri told SurreyLive. “It is very draining, emotionally and psychologically, but we are not at the point where we are going to give up.”

So far officers have been unable to identify the person or people responsible, but Silvestri and his husband are certain they are being targeted because of their sexuality.

“We are a gay couple, and this is something that has probably upset people. It is very uncomfortable,” Silvestri said.

“You think we are in 2020 and things are changing, but in reality that is not true. People who are different are safest in a big metropolis like London but as soon as you come down to a suburban area there are ignorant people.”

BB guns can blind or kill a person if shot at close range, and Silvestri says he’s had many near misses. He believes the shooting is carried out from hidden locations around his house.

Although the police have gone to great lengths to catch the person or persons responsible, even sending out drones and closing the street to search the area, they have so far been unsuccessful.

The gay teacher and his husband are determined that the attacks will “not stop us from being who we are,” but the prolonged ordeal has taken an inevitable toll on them both.

“You don’t know when it is going to happen,” he said. “And there is an element of danger attached to it because a ball bearing might not kill you like a bullet but they can blind you and can cause serious damage to your body.

“This is the thought we have every time we go down the stairs.”

To boost police efforts, independent charity Crimestoppers is now offering a reward of up to £2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.

Information can be given online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555 111.

More: bb gun, gay teacher, Hate crime, Surrey

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