Teenage boys arrested for catfishing and bashing gay men at park

victoria police parklands teenage boys catfish harlequin drive harlequin avenue
Images: Monash Council, Supplied

Victoria Police have arrested a group of teenage boys who allegedly lured and assaulted three gay men in Melbourne parklands.

The group of teenagers allegedly catfished the men by posing as an adult male with a fake profile on a gay app, police said.

They then lured the gay men to a reserve on Harlequin Drive at Ashwood, in the city’s east, on different nights across December and January.

At the park, police alleged the group of teens then verbally abused the men with homophobic slurs and assaulted them.

A 42-year-old man from Ashwood was allegedly assaulted on December 18 at about 1 am. The man suffered facial injuries from the assault.

In another incident, a 27-year-old Ashwood man received minor injuries in an alleged assault on January 7 at 2 am.

A 47-year-old Glen Waverley man was also allegedly assaulted on December 16 at around 9 pm. He escaped without physical injuries.

On Friday (February 4), police executed search warrants at three separate properties in Ashwood.

Officers arrested two 14-year-old boys, two 15-year-old boys and also a 16-year-old boy.

“The boys were all released yesterday afternoon and are expected to be charged on summons with assault and robbery offences,” a police spokesperson said on Saturday.

Victoria Police also earlier arrested a 19-year-old Ashwood man on January 27 as part of the ongoing investigation.

He will appear at Ringwood Magistrates Court for attempted robbery and recklessly causing injury.

Victoria Police step up patrols of parklands

As a result of the crimes, Victoria Police said they’ve increased their patrols of parks and gardens around the Ashwood area.

Detective Sergeant Brendon Pollock said everyone had a right to feel safe.

“Prejudice motivated crime has no place in our society,” he said.

“Police treat any incidents motivated by hate seriously and we will act swiftly when we receive any reports.

“Victoria Police is committed to ensuring the safety of all members of our community, including Beat users.”

Police urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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