Ian Baynham was kicked to death in Trafalgar Square two years ago for the terrible crime of being gay. It was a horrible reminder that although we now consider areas like the centre of London to be bastions of acceptance, hatred is still lurking everywhere for people who are different. What horribly also still true is that homophobic killing is still treated with leniency by the courts:
Ruby Thomas, 19, was one of three teenagers who attacked 62-year-old Ian Baynham in an incident likened by one witness at the Old Bailey last month to something out of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Jurors then convicted Thomas, of Anerley, south London, and her ex-boyfriend Joel Alexander, now 20, of nearby Thornton Heath – who was today sentenced to six years – after hearing details of the assault in September 2009.
Thomas had been acting in a “lairy, mouthy way” and flirting with passersby before she turned on Baynham and his friend Philip Brown and screamed “fucking faggots” at them as they crossed the square.
She also smiled as she “put the boot into” an unconscious Baynham after Alexander had knocked him to the ground and caused a severe brain injury.
Baynham died 18 days later at the Royal London hospital without recovering consciousness. Police found his blood on Thomas’s handbag and the ballet pumps she had been wearing.
Judge Richard Hawkins increased Thomas’s sentence from six years to seven because of the homophobic nature of her actions. He said: “This was a case of mindless, drink-fuelled violence committed in public.”
A third defendant, Rachael Burke, 18, of Upper Norwood, south London, will serve a two-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution after being convicted of affray at a separate trial.
Surely a real example of ‘broken Britain’ is when a judge increases a tariff for killing someone for being gay by a year rather than twenty. These are two, six and seven year sentences for murder -yet again homophobic scum get away with it by being ‘public schoolgirls’, ‘usually responsible’ or the jury believing the most preposterous justifications for Thomas’ behaviour from her barrister, reducing the charge to manslaughter . This is what happened:
The court was told that Thomas, of Anerley, south-east London, had been acting in a “lairy, mouthy way” and flirting with random passersby before turning on Baynham and his friend Philip Brown and screaming “fucking faggots” at them as they crossed the square.
When Baynham confronted her, there was a scuffle during which she hit him with her handbag. Alexander knocked him to the ground, causing a severe brain injury as his head hit the pavement.
Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, told the court: “That did not suffice. There is evidence that the female defendants then began putting the boot into Mr Baynham, who was still prone on his back, clearly unconscious and in distress … shocked onlookers saw repeated stamping to his chest and forceful kicks to his head.” He said the girls had been fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol.
How on earth was this manslaughter? How on earth could the sentences be this puny? How on earth could Ben Summerskill of Stonewall not condemn their leniency?
Last night I attended a vigil in Trafalgar Square for Ian Baynham, the gay man recently murdered there. I’ve written recently about why gay hate might be so much in the ascendant once more, but last night was cause for optimism. Thousands of people – gay, straight, white, every ethnic minority under the sun, older, younger, you name it everyone was there to make a stand against hate. Friends and family of Ian’s were in attendance, some of them spoke and shared their private memories of a man lost because he dared to stand up for who he was.
The video is of TV personality Sue Perkins, reading out a list of people lost to homophobic hate in the last ten years. It was sobering to experience, and remains sobering to watch.
Join me at the vigil the week after next for Ian Baynham, the gay man murdered in Trafalgar Square:
A vigil has been organised to pay tribute to Ian Baynham, the gay man who died this week after being attacked in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The event was planned by members of a Facebook group called 17-24-30, which remembers those killed and injured by Soho bomber David Copeland. It was responsible for organising the London vigil after the Tel Aviv gay shooting in August.
It will be held between 8 and 10pm in Trafalgar Square on Friday, October 30th.
Reassuringly there have been arrests:
Police hunting for the killers of a 62-year-old gay man who was beaten to death in Trafalgar Square have arrested two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy.
Ian Baynham was attacked on September 25th. After suffering brain damage, his life support machine was switched off on Tuesday.
According to a Metropolitan Police spokesman, the girls were arrested at their homes in south-east London, as was the 18-year-old male.
They are being held at separate police stations and will be questioned.
Makes you wonder whether Jan Moir blames him for his own murder, doesn’t it?
Thought those days were over? That cosmopolitan central London, on the doorsteps of Soho, where the annual Pride celebrations are now held, was now essentially entirely gay friendly and safe? Think again:
A man who was assaulted in London’s Trafalgar Square as part of a homophobic hate crime has died, Pink Paper can report.
Ian Baynham, was walking through Trafalgar Square with a 30-year-old friend on Friday 25 September when a woman began shouting homophobic abuse at him.
Punched to the floor and kicked repeatedly outside South Africa House by a second female and a man, the 62-year-old victim was taken to a central London hospital with serious head injuries, including brain damage.
Baynham died last night when doctors turned off his life support machine.
This, people, is why hate crimes legislation is important. Whether it be because of the economic climate or other social reasons, gay hate is on the increase. The Independent reports:
Over a quarter of all incidents involved physical violence. Figures from the Met show that in the last year reported homophobic hate crime in London has risen by more than 5 per cent, from 1,008 to 1,062 incidents. London’s gay and lesbian population is thought to stand at around 750,000.
National figures on homophobic incidents are not collected by the Home Office, however. A survey by Stonewall, the gay rights charity, published last year found that one in five gay people had been the victim of a hate crime in the last three years.
Stonewall also published a report earlier this month which revealed a “deeply alarming” amount of homophobia in schools. The report is the largest survey of both primary and secondary schoolteachers on the issue of homophobic bullying.
David Morley, Michael Causer, the Admiral Duncan bombing, these aren’t isolated incidents. The image is of two of the murder suspects. Hopefully Ian’s murderers will be found and sent to jail for lengthy terms. We cannot afford to be complacent – laws may have changed, but homophobia hasn’t gone anywhere.