A 25-year-old man in England was sent to jail for five years earlier this week following his conviction for a brutal homophobic assault that left a gay man unconscious in the street.
According to Sussex police, Aaron Rhoods was part of a group of men who attacked the unnamed victim in Brighton in 2018. The two men were arrested a short time later and were convicted this past June after numerous court hearings. The accomplice, Celso Dias, 22, was sentenced to a supervision order for two years.
“These convictions shows that despicable hate crimes such as this will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be brought to justice,” police constable Russell Smith said in a statement.
Police say Rhoods, Dias, and a group of men encountered the victim in Kings Road, Brighton, in the early morning of Sunday, October 18, 2018. The group hurled anti-gay rhetoric at the victim, who was 32 at the time, before they cornered and attacked the gay man. He was struck over the head with a bottle, causing the man to lose consciousness. The group left the man bleeding in the street, and he was still unconscious when police and paramedics arrived.
Rhoods and Dias were arrested a short time later in the area after they were discovered checking door handles on cars. Police said the men matched the descriptions of the attackers provided by witnesses. Rhoods and Dias were charged with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Both men were found guilty following two years of delays and court hearings. Rhoods received a much harsher sentence than his accomplice, indicating the severity of his actions.
The convictions and sentencing come on the heels of recent violent attacks against LGBTQ+ folks in England. Earlier this month, a group of teenaged boys and girls attacked two gay men in a parking lot, leaving one man unconscious and both with multiple fractures to the face along with other serious injuries. Like Rhoods and Dias, the group hurled homophobic slurs on the two men before they attacked.
“This despicable attack was completely unprovoked and left both men with serious injuries,” Investigator Gary Bangs, from the East Herts Local Crime Unit, said in a statement.
This past July, Aodhán Benson, 24, a Liverpool Hope University student from Belfast, Ireland, was subjected to anti-LGBTQ+ abuse and then brutally assaulted as he walked home on Bold Street in the early morning hours last Saturday, July 10. His attackers then quickly fled the scene. The unprovoked assault left him bruised and bleeding from a large gash above his eyebrow. Benson later posted graphic imagery from the assault to his Twitter.
“‘F*gg*t gay c*nt’ was what I heard before four men assaulted me in Liverpool not far from where someone died in a similar attack,” Benson wrote in the post.
Using witness statements and CCTV footage, police quickly arrested a 43-year-old man from Liverpool and a 33-year-old man from Sefton and charged them with the attack.
PC Smith said the convictions and sentences handed down to Rhoods and Dias show police will not permit such crimes to be perpetrated against the LGBTQ+ community.
“We will continue working to show that violence and hate is not welcome in our city and that Brighton and Hove is a safe place for everybody to enjoy,” Smith said.