Irish Examiner

28/05/2004 - 1:07:25 PM

Police didn't care, says 'attacked' gay man

Police in Belfast today faced accusations of homophobia from a gay man beaten up in the city.

Kristian Markus, 26, claimed he faced a wall of resistance from station officers after being battered outside a nightclub.

The advertising executive alleged anti-gay attitudes also stretched to his friend being wrongly arrested for assaulting a policeman.

Mr Markus vowed to take legal action and is preparing a detailed complaint for Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s office.

He said: “It’s no good devising new strategies for homophobic crime if there are undercurrents within the force itself.

“Their attitude was just p*** off and go home.”

Mr Markus told how he and his friend were jumped on by a 10-strong gang early on Tuesday.

Blows rained down from the thugs who had taunted them with homosexual abuse as they left the club on Tomb Street, Mr Markus said.

He said his companion, a 27-year-old hairdresser, then chased after two of the attackers who stole his wallet during the beating.

Mr Markus, who moved to Belfast from Dublin three years ago, managed to break free and flag down a police car.

Although he identified some of the gang by their clothes, the media buyer claimed officers told him it was not strong enough to make arrests.

After learning his friend had been arrested, Mr Markus said he went to the station on Musgrave Street where he was being held.

As he waited to see him, Mr Markus says, he urged police to take photos of his bruised and bloodied face as a record.

“They refused, saying it was not serious enough,” he claimed.

“I asked one of them if it would take a dead body to be considered serious enough and he said yes it would.

“A woman officer then started talking aggressively to me, saying I had abused the other one verbally.”

When he got to see his friend and heard what had happened to him, Mr Markus says he insisted there were no grounds for arresting him.

“Other officers were brought in and they took a complaint from Geoff and a statement from me,” he recalled.

Mr Markus added that the alleged treatment was even more outrageous because it came just days after new assistant chief constable Judith Gillespie pledged to crackdown on homophobic attacks.

Such assaults are believed to be on the rise across Northern Ireland, with particularly worrying levels in Derry.

Despite tough new measures aimed at halting hate crime, the latest victim said he was left dismayed by the police.

“It’s all very well trying to be PC when you are in the top positions and have to be seen to be doing something,” Mr Markus said.

“But how far does it filter down? Are officers on the ground getting the proper training?

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman refused to comment on the case.

She said: “If he has any complaint against the police, the proper channel to address that through is the Police Ombudsman’s office.”

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