Woman targeted in ‘homophobic’ London bus attack felt ‘physically cornered’

One of the women targeted on a London night bus in an allegedly homophobic attack says she felt “physically cornered” during the incident.

Christine Hannigan told a court on Friday three teenagers threw coins at her and her girlfriend, Melania Geymonat, 28, as they travelled on the upper deck of a bus in Camden, north London, in the early hours of 30 May.

During the confrontation Ms Hannigan was punched in the face and Ms Geymonat’s bag was stolen.

The teenagers, aged 15,16 and 17, who cannot be named because of their age, admitted threatening the couple during a hearing at Highbury Corner Youth Court on Thursday, but the 17 year old denied being hostile towards them because of their sexual orientation.

He was in court on Friday to establish whether the attack was homophobic.

Miss Hannigan told the court from behind a screen she stood up when the boys started throwing coins and said: “Throw another one and see what happens.”

She said two boys then surrounded the couple and made comments about “scissoring”, while asking the couple to show them how lesbians have sex, so she pretended she was going to throw up “so they would leave us alone”.

The American woman said she found them “aggressive” and it was “scary, frankly… put up with a lot of homophobia in London…felt they didn’t deserve a response from me”.

She said she did not realise they were so young until the couple were in a physical confrontation with them.

Denying the boys could have been “hitting” on the women, she said: “Their standing up and moving to the front of the bus was motivated by us being affectionate to one another.

“They were being extremely aggressive verbally then they made it physical.”

Miss Hannigan said she then walked past the two boys to another one who was throwing coins from further back in the bus, and told the court: “I imagine that I did something to physically confront him.”

She said she was then punched in the face and the police arrived shortly after.

CCTV of the incident was shown to the court again, after being first shown at the hearing on Thursday.

The 17-year-old’s lawyer asked if Miss Hannigan accepted she did not say anything to officers about the boys asking them to show them how they had sex – which she accepted.

She agreed there was a difference between a statement she gave the following month to what she told police at the scene, and said a Guardian article she wrote about the attack was “heavily edited”.

Miss Hannigan said she was not aware of the boy throwing coins making any remarks about the couple’s sexuality, just the two who surrounded them.

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 her on the basis of sexual orientation.

The 16-year-old previously admitted stealing Ms Geymonat’s handbag and admitted one count of handling stolen goods, and will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on 19 December.

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

Charges of handling stolen goods were dropped against the 17-year-old.

Source: Read Full Article