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Same-sex couple on bus ‘treated as form of entertainment’ by abusive teenagers

The boys admitted threatening the pair during a confrontation on the double decker which police are calling a “homophobic” hate crime.

CCTV grab issued by the Metropolitan Police of Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend Christine Hannigan being surrounded by a group of teenagers
CCTV grab issued by the Metropolitan Police of Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend Christine Hannigan being surrounded by a group of teenagers

By Jess Glass, PA

Three teenage boys have admitted threatening a same-sex couple in what police are calling a “homophobic” hate crime.

Melania Geymonat, 28, and her girlfriend Christine Hannigan were on the upper deck of a double-decker night bus in Camden, north London, when they were confronted by the youths in the early hours of May 30.

The teenagers, aged 15, 16 and 17, appeared at Highbury Corner Youth Court which was told two women were surrounded, hit with coins, punched in the face several times and subjected to sexual gestures on their way home.

Before the scheduled two-day trial on Thursday, all the teenagers, who cannot be named due to their ages.

CCTV from the N31 bus was shown in court and showed the boys boarding the bus first, before the two women boarded a few stops later.

Saira Khan said: “It is undisputed that it is less than ten seconds after going on the top of the bus they then are approached by three of the group of four.”

She added that the boys approached the women like the “tide washing in”.

Ms Geymonat appeared to be trying to diffuse the situation with the surrounding teenagers as she held Ms Hannigan, who was pretending to be sick.

After a few minutes, the footage shows the boys making gestures before the whole group moves around the bus and a fight ensued.

English & Español, against CHAUVINIST, MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE / En contra del MACHISMO, MISOGINIA Y...

Posted by Melania Ps on Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Both women were taken to hospital for treatment for facial injuries after the attack.

The 15-year-old was seen making a “scissoring” gesture to the women on the bus CCTV.

Ms Hannigan later ran toward the boys, one of whom took her handbag.

Ms Khan said the teenagers saw the women as “some form of entertainment” which was why the 17-year-old was throwing coins at the pair.

District Judge Susan Williams said the offence “plainly” involved the women’s’ sexual orientations.

She said: “The two young women were behaving in an overtly affectionate manner.

“They were clustering around watching them like some sort of sideshow, they seem to think it a huge joke and behaved inappropriately.

“I don’t know if I would describe it as a ‘hate crime’ but they quite clearly targeted this couple.

“It is plainly the fact it was a same-sex couple that attracted the boys and provoked their interaction.

“I would hope in this day and age we could tolerate others and not carry on in the way that they did.”

Whether the incident was aggravated by the women’s’ sexual orientations will be decided at sentence.

After the hearing, investigating officer Detective Constable Darren Barlow said: “No one should ever be victimised because of their sexuality and I hope that this result brings some form of closure to both victims and they can put this ordeal behind them.”

Mandy McGregor, Head of Transport Policing and Community Safety at TfL, added: “This sickening incident was utterly unacceptable. Homophobic abuse is a hate crime and won’t be tolerated on our network. All of our customers have the right to travel without fear of verbal or physical abuse.”

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CCTV grab issued by the Metropolitan Police

The 15 and 16-year-olds each admitted two counts of using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment of distress.

The 17-year-old admitted one count of using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment or distress towards Ms Hannigan, but denied being hostile towards on the basis of sexual orientation.

He will appear again at Highbury Corner Youth Court on Friday for a fact-finding hearing.

The 16-year-old previously admitted stealing Ms Geymonat’s handbag during the attack.

He also admitted one count of handling stolen goods and will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on December 19.

The 15-year-old, who also admitted a count of handling stolen goods, will appear again at Highbury Corner Youth Court for sentence on December 23.

Charges were also dropped against a 17-year-old.

PA

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