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Campaigners eye memorial for two gay men whose brutal, gruesome murder shocked the UK 25 years ago

Patrick Kelleher February 18, 2021
Terry Sweet: Remembering the death of two gay men that shook a UK city

Terry Sweet lost his life in the savage attack, while Bernard Hawkin was left permanently disabled (Screenshot: ITV)

Campaigners are fundraising to create a memorial for two gay men who were left for dead following a brutal homophobic attack in Plymouth 25 years ago.

Terry Sweet and Bernard Hawken were found lying 200 yards apart just after midnight on 7 November 1995 in the city’s Central Park. They had both sustained horrific injuries, with their faces and genitalia slashed and mutilated.

Terry, who was 64 years old, died at the scene, while 54-year-old Bernard survived the attack but was left brain damaged and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He died many years later as a result of his injuries.

The local LGBT+ community has now launched a fundraiser so they can erect a plaque and plant a tree in memory of Sweet and Hawken.

They needed to raise £500 to create the memorial, but they have already raised more than double that figure. Additional funds raised will go towards building a training course to help challenge hate crime in the city.

Alan Butler, one of the directors of Pride in Plymouth, asked the LGBT+ community to chip in so they can make sure Sweet and Hawken are not forgotten.

“We need to acknowledge as part of our history, as part of our heritage, to remember these two men, and to look at how far we’ve come, hopefully, in the last 25 years and how far we have to go,” Butler said.

“We find ourselves now in a position where we’re able to offer a permanent memorial to the two men, so a plaque on a bench at the scene of the attack, and also to plant a tree to look ahead to the future.

“So we’re very much hoping that people in the community will be keen to support us in creating that memorial and also looking at perhaps some educational material around hate crime and continuing to challenge it in the future.”

Three teenagers were jailed for life over the brutal attack in Plymouth.

The fundraiser was launched by Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth.

“To help us build this lasting memorial to Terry, please contribute to this crowdfunder,” he said.

“Every penny will make a difference to providing something beautiful in Central Park, but it will also help Pride in Plymouth continue their work in challenging hate in our city. Love is love, and you can make a difference by donating today.”

Three teenagers were later jailed for life for the brutal attack, and shortly afterwards, their friends and followers desecrated the crime scene with vile graffiti.

“In memory of Terry Sweet, may he rest in pieces… ha ha,” the assailants scrawled in spray paint. “No queers here, your [sic] banned or face death.”

On the path close to where Sweet was found, someone spray-painted the outline of a body next to the words: “Please step over spilt AIDS!”

The gruesome attacks shocked the city’s LGBT+ community, and became a symbol of the work that still needed to be done to stamp out homophobia.

More: Bernard Hawken, Plymouth, Terry Sweet

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