Drunk jailed for homophobic attack
11:00am Tuesday 16th July 2013 in News
A DRUNKEN young man launched 'an utterly unprovoked' homophobic attack on two gay men on their way home through the centre of Gloucester - punching and biting his terrified victims.
Neil Rigby, 30, of Boddington drive, Kingsway, Glos, was jailed for 32 months after he admitted assaulting Rocco Zimbalatti and Sam Elliot, causing them both actual bodily harm on 25th March last year.
His victims both made statements expressing their fear of being gay after the attack at 10.30pm on March 24, last year, Gloucester Crown Court was told today.
Prosecuting barrister Derek Perry said the two men now lived in fear of being attacked again and had changed the way they walked because they were frightened of being singled out and assaulted for being gay.
"The two victims were walking home in Westgate Street when they encountered the defendant having an argument with a woman in the street," said Mr Perry.
"The defendant was being abusive and they were concerned for her safety but then the defendant shouted at them saying ‘You queers.’
"They carried on walking but the defendant pursued them, pushed one of them and then punched him in the face.
"There was a struggle and the defendant bit one of the victims on the back of the neck."
In a statement, read out in the court, one of the victims said: "I feel much more wary of being gay and I have altered the way I walk because I fear I will be attacked again."
The other victim said that since the attack he was no longer confident of challenging homophobic remarks and had become wary of going out at night.
The court heard that Rigby had a number of previous convictions, for violence, dishonesty and robbery, and was jailed in 2007 for assaulting his ex-wife and threatening her with a knife.
Defending lawyer Sarah Jenkins said: "He said in police interview that, due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed, he had no recollection of the incident and had blacked out.
"But when he was confronted with DNA evidence taken from the bite wound he had to accept responsibility.
"He is not normally homophobic and is deeply embarrassed and remorseful."
Judge Jamie Tabor QC said: "This was an utterly unprovoked homophobic attack in the street at night.
"It was a nasty attack on two gay men and has left a permanent scar on one of them.
"You were drunk and on licence from your prison sentence for a violent attack on you former wife."