A man has been arrested after a “gay-bashing” attack on Brighton seafront that left his victim with a broken jaw.
Sussex Police said that a 21-year-old man from London was held on suspicion of assault and causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.
The victim, Aaron Woods, 26, was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton after being attacked just before 5am on Sunday (8 May).
The former model was outside Legends, the seafront bar and hotel, when his attacker shouted homophobic abuse at him and punched him in the face.
Sussex Police said: “Police have arrested a man following a serious assault on another man in Madeira Drive, Brighton, which happened shortly before 5am on Sunday (8 May).
“The victim, a 26-year-old from Eastbourne, was approached by a man who used homophobic language before being punched in the face and suffering a broken jaw.
“A 21-year-old man from London was arrested on suspicion of assault and GBH with intent. He has been bailed until (Monday) 13 June.
“It follows an assault on Monday 2 May in which two men were attacked in King’s Road, Brighton, suffering head and facial injuries.
“Two 18-year-old men from Crawley were arrested on suspicion of GBH, ABH (actual bodily harm) and assault on police and have been bailed until (Tuesday) 5 July.
“Police are not linking the two incidents.”
Sergeant Peter Allan, the force’s hate crime officer said: “I am saddened to hear of the homophobic assaults in Brighton over the last two weekends.
“I am pleased, however, that the victims are recovering from their physical injuries and that prompt arrests were made in both cases.
“While we have not seen an increase in homophobic hate crimes, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage those who have been victims of hate crime to report them to us by phoning 101 or, in an emergency, 999.
“Reports can also be made online by completing the short form on the force website www.sussex.police.uk.”
Brighton LGBT liaison officer Rory Smith said: “Incidents of this nature are very concerning for the local LGBT community and to visitors to the city.
“While alarming, these recent incidents are thankfully not related and violent crime of this nature is relatively uncommon.
“We encourage everyone to remain vigilant to anti-gay sentiments by reporting incidents to police and our partners.
“If you don’t feel comfortable reporting hate incidents to police directly, organisations like the LGBT Community Safety Forum (01273 855620) and LGBT Switchboard (01273 204050) can make a report on your behalf.
“The LGBT police team in Brighton are on hand to support people to report hate crime and provide reassurance.”
A friend of the victim, Brian Markintosh, said that Mr Woods was 6ft 6in tall but said: “He’s such a gentle giant. He’s the kindest person you could imagine.
“This geezer broke his jaw with a knuckleduster. He was filming the young gay guys.
“And when he was attacking him he was shouting all this Muslim stuff but no one wants to hear that.”
Sussex Police said that it was not aware of any racial or religious element to the assault.
Mr Markintosh also said that the man who carried out the attack seemed to be drunk. He added: “Aaron was in so much pain. He was really screaming.”