'Why wasn't it a hate crime?' - Transgender teen’s family outraged after attacker only prosecuted for common assault
A distraught mum whose transgender teenager was violently attacked at Preston Bus Station has demanded more support for victims of hate crime.
The Preston mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, shared pictures of the nasty bruises inflicted on her child in an unprovoked attack by Michael Kellett, 41, who called his young, short-haired victim a ‘gay boy’
Kellett, of Stanley Croft, Woodplumpton, was only charged with a simple common assault, rather than it being treated as a hate crime - which allows prosecutors to apply for an uplift in sentence.
He was given a fine and rehabilitation activity.
The victim’s family say it sends out the wrong message to people who suffer the effects of hate crime and homophobia, and should have been treated more seriously.
The teenager, who was born female, is on the gender clinic waiting list for an appointment, and faces up to a three year wait to start hormone therapy to transition into a man.
The student was alone at Preston Bus Station, at around 10.15pm on February 12, waiting for a bus when drunk Kellett walked past, shouting ‘f*** off’.
When the teen, who had been on the phone to a friend, glanced up at him, he said: “F***ing gay boy.”
He then shouted the teen was ‘ p***ing him off’, before starting kicking out.
The terrified teenager cowered as Kellett rained kicks and blows - including to the head - until a good Samaritan stepped in to stop him and called the police. Magistrates heard the defendant then started hitting himself to the head, before police arrived and arrested him.
The court was told by his defence he has learning difficulties. He pleaded guilty and was fined £80, ordered to pay £200 compensation at £5 per week from his benefits, and must complete a rehabilitation activity.
Today the mum claimed police refused to give the family his name and she had to attend court to find out about his hearing and sentence.
She said: “My daughter has short hair and wants to be a boy. She has been dressing like a boy since she was a child and has worn her hair in a boy’s style for nearly a year.
“Her friends call her by a male name and she uses a male name for the gym, college etc. She received a letter from the police after the incident classing it as a hate crime, and it was mentioned in court that he called her a ‘gay boy’.
“The staff at Preston magistrates couldn’t believe the police wouldn’t tell me his name. Kellett was found guilty but because he has mental health problems they would not give him community service. He was given no curfew, or ban from the bus station. But this is his third assault and I feel he is a danger to the public.
“Me and my daughter are so disappointed and angry that his punishment was so lenient and the lack of support we received.”
It is understood a decision was taken not to prosecute the assault as a hate crime - which can carry an uplift to the offender’s sentence - because no reference to gender reassignment was made in any statements or evidence presented to the CPS.
A spokesman for the CPS said Michael Kellett pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault, following an incident in which he carried out an “unprovoked assault” on a 17-year-old.
She said: “The defendant admitted the offence to the police and he was charged with common assault. He pleaded guilty at the first hearing. The words used by a defendant are one of the things that are considered when the evidence is being reviewed.
"In this case the offence of common assault was charged by police not CPS and it wasn’t flagged as a hate crime on the case system when sent to the CPS for prosecution. The case was not subsequently prosecuted as a hate crime by CPS.”
The CPS’s website says: “Once a hate crime has been reported, the police investigate whether a hate crime has been committed.
“They refer cases to the CPS to decide whether there should be a charge.
“We are responsible for preparing and presenting hate crime cases at court and applying for an increased sentence.”
Lancashire Police say they have clear guidelines for assessing whether a hate crime has been committed or not. The force’s website states: “A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; person’s disability or perceived disability or against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender. A hate incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; person’s disability or perceived disability or against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.“All hate crimes are hate incidents, but not all hate incidents amount to a crime.”
In October the Post revealed Lancashire Police was dealing with more incidents of hate crime against transgender people, with LGBT charity Stonewall branding the figures “a wake up call”.Home Office data shows 66 incidents were recorded by the police between April 2017 and March 2018, up from 27 in 2016-17.Six years earlier, when this data was first published, 13 incidents were reported. Over the same period 301 people reported homophobic hate crime to Lancashire Police, an increase of 128 per cent on the year previously. But campaigners believe this is just a fraction of the true number of trans people who have experienced hate crime.Reacting to the case, Eloise Wreight, who works in Preston and champions LGBTQ rights, said: “ We are usedw to being ignored when it comes to hate crimes and prosecutions.“All you can do is be there for them, and be supportive and accepting, to try to help them get their confidence back.”