A man whose spine was fractured in an attack on the street after Pride in London has spoken out about the incident. Currently unable to work, he’s struggling to cover his living expenses.
Tom Barwick, 50, attended the Pride festival in London on 7 July. He remained in Soho afterwards, where celebrations continued well into the night.
When he decided it was time to go home, Barwick set off towards Tottenham Court Road tube station. It was around 1.10am on Sunday 8 July, while he walked up Greek Street, that he was attacked.
The attacker used offensive language, leading police to suspect this was a hate crime. He also stole Barwick’s mobile phone before running off.
Police have scoured CCTV footage but launched an appeal in mid August for help from the public. They want to hear from anyone who may have seen anything or have any information.
Barwick lives in Debden in Epping Forest, north-east London. He runs a pet shop but is now on crutches and wearing a spinal brace. He has had to stay home since the attack.
‘I went straight down’
‘I was out with my sister, my nieces and my friends, we had a lovely day out drinking. Pride is brilliant, the atmosphere is so amazing,’ he told the Evening Standard.
‘You meet so many people and I’m very social, I talk to everybody. Then we went down to Soho afterwards.’
Off the actual attack, he says: ‘I felt a crack on my back like I was kicked. I went straight down. They took my phone and ran, it was all over in a second.’
Barwick told GSN the attacker yelled, ‘Oi, you fucking poof!’
Barwick managed to get himself to the tube station and caught the train to Stratford, but says the pain became agonizing. He was taken to hospital, where he remained for ten days.
He is now wearing a spinal brace and undergoing physiotherapy.
‘I’ve been out since I was 18 and never come across any hate stuff like this,’ he says.
‘I’m not working at the moment, my shop is struggling, I’m relying on friends and family and borrowing money to keep myself going. It’s horrible.’
He has launched a GoFundMe to help cover his expenses while he recuperates.
On his Facebook, he said of the crowdfunder, ‘I’m proud and didn’t think I’d have to do this but they ruined my life and financially it’s hard.’
He has been told that following recuperation, there should be no permanent damage, although it’s still too early to know this for sure.
Anyone in the UK with information is asked to contact the Community Safety Unit at Westminster by calling 101. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.