Three UK teens have pleaded guilty to harassing and threatening a lesbian couple on a late-night bus ride in London in the early hours of May 30 this year, but one denies the attack was a hate crime.
As Instinct previously reported, Christine Hannigan and Melania Ramirez were approached by four teenage boys who began taunting them and demanding they kiss. When they refused, the teens surrounded the couple taunting them, making sexual gestures, throwing coins at them and eventually punching the women.
As a result, Hannigan’s jaw was injured and Ramirez’s nose was broken requiring medical treatment for both women.
“They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions,” Ramirez wrote in a Facebook post accompanied by a photo showing the couple left bloody by the incident. “I don’t remember the whole episode, but the word ‘scissors’ stuck in my mind.”
After the assault, which lasted about nine minutes, the teens departed taking Hannigan’s handbag with them.
After the four teens were arrested this summer, they appeared in court on Thursday for an anticipated two-day trial.
But before the proceedings could begin, three of the teens (aged 15, 16 and 17) pleaded guilty to using threatening words or behavior to cause harassment while charges against the fourth were dropped, according to Sky News.
CCTV footage of the incident was viewed in court showing the boys approaching the women soon after the couple boarded the bus which Prosecutor Saira Khan characterized as “the tide washing in.”
Hannigan testified in court on Friday saying the boys made comments about ‘scissoring’ and asked them to show how lesbians have sex. She called the teens’ demeanor “aggressive” and “scary”
The 16-year-old boy also pleaded guilty to handling a stolen mobile phone and the 15-year-old admitted to handling a stolen bank card.
The 17-year-old admitted to throwing coins at the women but denied being hostile towards the couple based on their sexual orientation.
During the Thursday hearing, Judge Susan Williams said the abuse “was quite clearly directed towards this couple because of who they are.”
Solicitor David Wood, representing the 17-year-old, admitted the coin-throwing was “pathetic” and constituted a criminal offense, but added, “It has nothing whatsoever to do with an attack based on hostility with regards to sexual orientation.”
Judge Williams addressed the 17-year-old directly saying, “You say you were not being hostile to these ladies on the basis of their sexual orientation. That is an issue that has to be resolved because it does make the case more serious if the court comes to the decision that this was what was going on at the time and it does mark it as more serious.”
“I think it will be a hair-splitting exercise but it’s perfectly obvious that this was a same-sex couple that has provoked their interest and the interaction between them,” added Judge Williams. “The offense cannot be explained in any other way. I do regard this as an aggravating feature and it would be reflected in the sentence.”