A 29-year old man was today sentenced to 13 weeks imprisonment for shouting homophobic abuse at two gay men after he overheard them singing songs from the musical Wicked on a tram in Manchester, England.
One of the men went on to be seriously injured in a homophobic attack that followed the verbal abuse.
Jean Claude Manseau and Jake Heaton were passengers on the Metrolink from Bury to Manchester on the evening of 31 October last year. They were singing songs from Wicked when Oldham heckled them with anti-gay abuse.
The two got off the tram at Market Street, but Oldham followed them as they tried to make their way towards Canal Street, continuing to heckle them. His shouts drew the attention of others in the Piccadilly Gardens area, and some of these others then set upon the two men.
Heaton was punched by managed to escape and seek help.
Manseau was badly beaten and knocked unconscious – sustaining injuries to his head and face. Photographs of his injuries were later posted on Heaton’s Facebook page.
In prosecuting Oldham, the Crown Prosecution Service applied for an uplift in his sentence under S146 of the criminal justice act to reflect the homophobic aspect of the crime. As a result the Judge added a 10% increase to the sentence.
At the same time, Oldham was also sentenced to a further 13 weeks imprisonment for a domestic violence assault and will therefore serve a total of six months in custody. He was also ordered to pay £520 Criminal Court Costs and £80 Victim Surcharge.
David Graham, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: ‘The two victims were subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse and threats of violence both during and after a tram journey into Manchester city center which was purely motivated by homophobic prejudice.
‘The men were in good spirits and looking forward to a night out in Manchester which was soon spoiled by a sequence of events which has greatly affected them since. The actions of Oldham drew the attention of another group of unidentified men, which in turn led to one of the victims being violently attacked in the street.
‘Targeting someone because of their sexual orientation is totally unacceptable. The CPS and police are dedicated to tackling hate crime and we will continue to work closely together to bring those who commit such offences to justice for their disgraceful actions.’
No-one has yet to have been charged or prosecuted in connection with the physical assaults against the two men. Verbal abuse charges against a woman who was previously arrested at the same time as Oldham were subsequently dropped.
Anyone with information about the attack can call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.