Victim thought he would never see again after pepper spray assault

Matthew was attacked with pepper spray in January

Friday, October 4, 2019

A 23-year-old gay man thought he had been permanently blinded after he was attacked with pepper spray in a suspected homophobic assault in January.

Matthew and his partner were at a bus stop in Lambeth in South London when they were assaulted.

“We were being quite affectionate to each other, kissing, holding hands... and then suddenly from nowhere this guy just came and sprayed something directly in my eyes,” he said.

“I fell to the ground. I thought I was never going to see again.”

Matthew, who did not want to use his full name, said he remembered the attacker was with four other men who said “we don't want your kind around here” during the assault.

More than eight months on, police have still not found any of the men involved in the attack, and Matthew and his partner said they were now more cautious about showing public affection.

Police wish to speak with these men.

“We won't hold hands, we won't show any kind of affection to each other. It's not really fair we can't do that because we're worried,” he said.

Detective Constable Amy Cross has urged witnesses to come forward to help with the investigation.

“Both the attack and the homophobic motivation of this assault are abhorrent, and I appeal to anyone with any information that could assist the investigation to come forward,” she said.

Police believe the suspects were also involved in an incident in a nearby KFC shortly before the attack, which is not being treated as a hate crime.

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