NSW Police arrested and charged a 17-year-old male with the robbery and assault of a gay man during Mardi Gras weekend. Police allege he committed a string of robberies just hours before the parade.
The 29-year-old victim told triple j’s Hack a group of young men ambushed, attacked and robbed him in the Redfern area in the early hours of Saturday morning. His injuries then prevented him marching in the parade.
“I was trying to catch an Uber… but I couldn’t get one so I thought I’d walk up to the main street and that’s when the attack happened.
“A group of about five young people surrounded me all of a sudden… one of them punched me and knocked me onto the ground. They then started stomping on my head.”
He said the attackers demanded he hand over his phone and wallet. However, when he did so, they then assaulted him.
“I managed to get away two or three times and each time they ran after me, got me back on the ground and started stomping on my head again.”
“I was thinking, ‘This is it’, that I was going to die.”
The man originally planned to march in the Mardi Gras parade. He and teammates from the Melbourne Surge water polo team and planned to join the Sydney Stingers float.
Melbourne Surge President Cal Hawk and Sydney Stingers Stephen Timbrell wrote on Facebook the violence “shocked, saddened, and infuriated” them. They also wished the victim a quick recovery.
NSW Police said on Wednesday the attack was one of a string of aggravated robberies. Despite the timing of the attacks, information did not indicate homophobia was a factor.
Less than an hour later, the four men approached a 29-year-old man. They allegedly punched him before stealing his bag, cash, iPhone and other personal items.
That man also received treatment at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for facial injuries. His injuries included a broken nose.
After the assault on the first victim, the group allegedly approached a 42-year-old man further down the street. They assaulted him, stole his wallet and bag, and fled the scene.
Police arrested the 17-year-old boy in Surry Hills yesterday afternoon. They charged him with robbery in company (x3).
A police spokesperson described the crimes as opportunistic.
“There is no information to suggest they are motivated by gay-hate bias.”
“Inquiries continue and police would like to speak to three males who may be able to assist with the inquiries.”
NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony Crandell spoke to Hack on Tuesday. He said police were reviewing assaults before, during, and after the Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night.
“Where evidence is available of attacks upon members of the LGBTIQ communities motivated by homophobia, all details will be reported to the judiciary for the imposition of sentences that reflect the extent of circumstances.”