A gay man who was knocked unconscious in a homophobic attack has spoken out after his attacker was spared jail and handed a suspended sentence.
Ryan Williams was with a group of friends when he was accosted by a group of thugs and told “gay is wrong” and “you all need to die”.
The 24-year-old was beaten until he lost consciousness and was left unable to sleep for months after the attack, which happened as he walked home from work near Manchester’s Gay Village in July 2019.
Brandon Forrester, 19 - who was out celebrating his 18th birthday at the time of the attack - pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm to Williams at Preston Crown Court and was sentenced to a nine-month term in a young offender’s institution.
But due to an 18-month delay in proceedings because of the COVID pandemic and his “previous good character”, his sentence was suspended fo 18 months, allowing him to walk free.
Speaking out after Forrester’s sentencing, Williams said he felt his attacker - who he claimed laughed in his mum’s face when he learned he would not be going to prison - had just been given a “telling off”.
The 24-year-old, of Preston, Lancashire., said: “As soon as the judge said the sentence was suspended I just left, I don’t know how I feel about it.
“After court he started laughing at my mum’s face, he showed no remorse. It was disgusting.”
He said: “It’s been the longest 18 months of my life, I’ve gone through so many emotions.
“I’ve been put through emotional and physical trauma and after 18 months it feels like nothing has come of it.
“I’ve never been through anything like this. And he’s just been told not to do it again.”
He urged people to speak out if they had been through similar incidents, adding: “People think homophobia isn’t an issue anymore, but things like this are still happening to people just because of who they are.
“I didn’t sleep for months, I drank for months, it was horrible.
“Part of me feels like everything I have been through for the last 18 months is for nothing, but if my story helps someone else then it was worth it.”
The court heard that Williams was with a friend when they were accosted and subjected to a barrage of insults and homophobic slurs before being assaulted.
He was left unconscious and said he only remembers waking up in the hospital to the sound of his mother speaking to him.
He was left with scars to his face, lips and eyebrows and said doctors told him if he had been punched just two inches higher he may have died from his injuries.
Williams said he hasn’t returned to Manchester since the summer of the attack and his confidence had taken a huge hit.
“It made me question myself a lot,” he added. “I didn’t like myself. I shut myself down.
“I lost so much confidence. I used to be so confident and bubbly. But now I really overthink everything I do, and question myself.
“I don’t really go out and I don’t socialise. I’ve been attacked for being me.”
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