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The victim of a homophobic attack said the terrifying assault left him permanently scarred and feeling unsafe knowing the people responsible still haven't been caught.
Callum Griggs and Brad Balueta were targeted by gang of youths in Chadwell Heath who hurled homophobic slurs at them.
When the pair confronted the gang one of the youths broke off a fence panel with nails and used it against Callum.
"He grabbed my shirt and as he grabbed my shirt I pushed his hand away and that’s when I got a punch to the back of the head and that’s where it all started," Callum told ITV News London.
"After that two other boys jumped in and it was three against one. There wasn’t much I could do.
"I got a cut to my eye and swelling to the back of my head and bruising and minor concussion.
"I was in hospital for 13 hours and they got me an X-ray and all sorted out. They glued my eyebrow shut for me," he explained.
Callum and Brad said they no longer felt safe and were shocked at some attitudes towards gay people in 2023.
Brad Balueta said: "We are now very vigilant and cautious and it’s ass knowing we have to be like that.
"I’m used to the backlash you get for being gay.
"And I’ve put up a wall to protect myself but knowing this has happened to us it’s knocked both our walls down.
"We feel uncomfortable knowing they are still potentially out there."
The couple criticised police for the time it took to investigate their case and got an apology for the way it had been handled.
"My hope is police catch the people responsiblem," Callum said. "It took a few days just to get our statements down. I feel a bit let down and they didn’t really care enough.
"The Chief Sergeant of the investigation has apologised for what’s happened dnd the way it’s been dealt with," he added.
In a statement police said: "The incident happened at approximately 17:30hrs on Sunday, 1 October, when two victims, both men aged in their 20s, were walking along High Road, Chadwell Heath, Romford.
"It was then reported that a group of up to six unknown men were verbally abusive towards the two men and made threats. A man from the group then punched one of the victims in the head. "The victim suffered cuts and bruises as a result of the incident. "He went to hospital for treatment and was discharged shortly after.
"The second victim was not injured, however the pair were understandably distressed. "While police continue to investigate the circumstances, at this stage the assault is being treated as homophobic. "No arrests have been made. "The Met is aware of the corrosive effect of Hate Crime and is determined to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice. "A dedicated LGBTQ+ liaison officer will have oversight of the investigation and provide support to the victims. "Any witnesses or anyone with any information or footage is asked to call police on 101 or contact via ‘X’ Twitter @MetCC. Please quote CAD 5640/01OCT. "To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org."
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