Shropshire Star

Gang beats and kicks gay couple in Whitchurch park

A gay man and his partner were assaulted by a gang of youths in an “unprovoked attack”.

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The gates leading into Victoria Jubilee Park in Whitchurch

Matthew Seward and his partner were walking home between 11.30pm and midnight on Saturday after enjoying a couple of drinks in Whitchurch, when the group of about nine youths men set upon them pair.

During the attack the pair were beaten and kicked, which resulted in 32-year-old Mr Seward needing to go to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where he was treated and had his cuts stitched up. The assault happened near to the toilets in Jubilee Park.

Mr Seward, who lives in Northamptonshire but was in Whitchurch helping his mother on the bar as part of the Party in the Park event, said it was a totally unprovoked attack.

He said: “We’re struggling to get our heads around why it happened, we did absolutely nothing to provoke the lads.

“I’d say I was a friendly person, I’m the type of person who says hello, how do, which I did, they probably heard my voice, realised I wasn’t from round here and maybe that was enough to antagonise them. I got the feeling they were riled up from something that had happened beforehand, and that was enough to start them off again.

“But then it’s also crossed our minds that it could’ve been racially motivated, as my partner is mixed race, or it could even have been a homophobic attack, we just don’t know.”

Mr Seward said the young men were aged between about 15 and 21 years old, and there was also a young girl, aged about 15, with them who at one point tried to stop the attack

One of the gang also made off with Mr Seward’s mobile phone while he was on the floor. Police are treating it as a hate crime.

Following the incident, Mr Seward said it is now being investigated by police officers and is calling on anyone who might have been in the area at the time to get in touch, in a bid to aid the investigation.

He added: “The town was busy following a brilliant community event, so we’d like to think surely someone saw something that could help the police.

“Things like this shouldn’t be happening, two innocent people going about their business shouldn’t be getting attacked for no reason, it isn’t right.”

Victoria Smith, organisational communications assistant for West Mercia Police, said: “Officers are investigating a report of a physical assault on two men in Jubilee Park, Whitchurch.

“It happened when the victims were walking through the park, towards Smallbrook Road.

“It is reported that the men encountered a group of approximately nine youths where there was an exchange of words. One of the victims was struck and fell to the ground. The other victim was physically assaulted when he tried to intervene.

“Enquiries are currently ongoing but officers are keen for anyone who saw the assault, who witnessed anyone acting suspiciously or who was in the area at the time of the incident, to come forward.

“Officers are treating this as a hate crime.”

Anyone who can help should call was in the area at the time of the attack on Saturday is asked to contact West Mercia Ppolice on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 , quoting incident number 28S of June 4.

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