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Man has sentence increased to 19 years for violent homophobic attack

Margate man’s sentence increased to 19 years for homophobic hammer attack on flatmate.

The Court of Appeal has increased Joseph Williams’ 14 year sentence to 19 years for trying to murder his gay flatmate Connor Huntley in a hammer attack while he slept.

Connor Huntley, who was 18 at the time of the attack, was hit on the head with the hammer, suffered severe injuries and will never again be able to live totally independently.

Connor Huntley was hit on the head by a hammer in a homophobic attack Credit: Kent Police
Connor Huntley was hit on the head by a hammer in a homophobic attack Credit: Kent Police

He was found on an inflatable bed with a duvet covering most of his body. A claw hammer was embedded in his skull and there was blood on the pillow, the floor and up the door. The hammer caused a depressed skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury. He suffered a brain clot and underwent surgery to remove bone fragments embedded within his brain. Doctors had to remove part of his skull during the operation.

In September this year, Joseph Williams of Margate, Kent was convicted of attempted murder after his trial at the Old Bailey and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment combined with a hospital direction under s.45A of the Mental Health Act 1983 and with restrictions for an unlimited period of time under s41 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

I am pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision to increase the sentence handed to Joseph Williams. His victim suffered horrific life changing injuries in a vicious hammer attack. I felt that the original 14 year sentence was unduly lenient as it did not reflect the aggravating factors in this case, that the offence was motivated by hostility towards the victim’s sexual orientation and that he was particularly vulnerable at the time because he was asleep and I hope the increased sentence of 19 years sends out a clear message that attacks motivated by homophobia will be dealt with by long prison sentences.

– Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP


'Big Kiss In' planned at supermarket

The University of Sussex Students’ Union and other local groups are calling for a 'Big Kiss In' at the Sainsbury's store on New England Street in Brighton. It comes in response to two women being asked to either stop kissing each other (on the cheek) or leave the branch. A customer had complained to a security guard that it was 'disgusting'. The protest is planned for Wednesday 15th October.

Sainsbury’s has apologised to the woman involved, a student at Sussex, and offered to make a £100 donation to charity. However, the Students’ Union doesn't feel this is an adequate response. They want the supermarket to re-examine current practice and provide mandatory equality and diversity training to all its staff, to ensure a similar situation doesn't happen again. They Union are also calling for a more substantial charitable donation and a public apology.

The ‘Big Kiss In’ tomorrow is open to everyone, regardless of sexuality.

'Tomorrow will be a show of strength and togetherness from the Brighton community, at which we will show that there is no place for homophobia in our community'

'We call on Sainsbury's to take their responsibilities seriously, and display a serious commitment to the cause that they claim to support. Come down and join the hundreds of us tomorrow in Brighton for a celebration of affection, no matter who they are.'

– Michael Segalov, Sussex Student Union - Communications Officer

Standing up to the bullies

The Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has been in Sussex today to see a school's ground-breaking work to tackle homophobic bullying. Blatchington Mill in Hove has appointed some of its students as "equality commissioners" to challenge prejudice.

The school says it's vital that all youngsters feel safe and valued, or their education can be seriously affected.

Malcolm Shaw has been speaking to Ed Milliband, Stephen Murtagh, a victim of homophobic bullying, Equality Commissioners Rosie Bradley and Joshua Drabble and Deputy Headteacher Nick Wergan.


Bid to kick homophobia out of football

The campaign follows recent reports of homophobic chants at matches Credit: Press Association

Following on from the recent report on homophobia at Brighton & Hove Albion FC matches, Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has sponsored an Early Day Motion calling on clubs, supporters, the police and football authorities to act.

EDM 1265 (Homophobic Chants at Football Games), highlights the extent of the problem of homophobic insults used at Brighton & Hove Albion games and calls for action from the host of parties involved with football matches.

Commenting, Mr Weatherley said: “Given the nature of this problem, I was keen to highlight this issue in Parliament. Homophobic behaviour at Albion games – and football games in general – is totally unacceptable and has no place in sport or civilised society.

Fans can be assured that I will continue to address this issue until these narrow-minded insults are a thing of the past.”

Don't suffer in silence

Hampshire police have released a new video to encourage the victims of homophobic crime to speak out. The movie, which was filmed in Portsmouth, tells the story of a man whose is abused outside a bar and the support he receives afterwards.

Detectives say they don't want gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people to suffer in silence. The force released the film to highlight the work of their Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers (LAGLOs). If you are a victim you can all Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111