A gay man has shared the horrendous injuries he was left with after his attacker was spared jail.
Ryan Williams, 24, spent months struggling to sleep after he was subjected to a horrific homophobic assault while he was on his way home from work near Manchester’s Gay Village.
He was with a friend when a group of thugs accosted Ryan and subjected him to a barrage of insults and homophobic slurs before he brutally assaulted him.
Brandon Forrester had been celebrating his 18th birthday on July 13, 2019 when he approached Ryan and threatened him, saying “gay is wrong” and “you all need to die”.
One of Ryan’s friends confronted Forrester, who is now 19, but while Ryan tried to act as a peacemaker he was struck in the face and left unconscious.
Ryan said he only remembers waking up in the hospital to the sound of his mother speaking to him.
Forrester admitted causing actual bodily harm to Ryan at Preston Crown Court and was sentenced to a nine-month term in a young offender’s institution.
But due to the 18-month delay in proceedings due to Covid, and his “previous good character”, Judge David Potter suspended the sentence for 18 months.
Following the sentencing, Ryan said he felt let down as his attacker had gotten away with a “telling off”.
He said he felt “disgusted” as Forrester laughed in his mum’s face and showed “no remorse” when he learned that he would not be going to jail.
Ryan, of Preston, Lancs., said: “As soon as the judge said the sentence was suspended I just left, I don’t know how I feel about it.
“After court he started laughing at my mum’s face, he showed no remorse.
“It was disgusting.
“It’s been the longest 18 months of my life, I’ve gone through so many emotions.
“I’ve been put through emotional and physical trauma and after 18 months it feels like nothing has come of it.
“I’ve never been through anything like this. And he’s just been told not to do it again.
“But I want people to be brave and speak out if things like this have happened to them.
“People think homophobia isn’t an issue anymore, but things like this are still happening to people just because of who they are.
“I didn’t sleep for months, I drank for months, it was horrible.
“Part of me feels like everything I have been through for the last 18 months is for nothing, but if my story helps someone else then it was worth it.”
During the court hearing, prosecutor Wayne Jackson said Ryan had finished work at 11pm and met his friends to go to Preston.
Mr Jackson told the court: “At around 6am they ended up at McDonalds on Friargate and noticed the group who shouted, amongst other things: ‘Gay is wrong’ and ‘You all need to die’.”
The insults continued and the girl broke free of Ryan to challenge the man, the court heard.
Ryan again pulled her away but as he walked away Forrester punched him and he fell to the ground.
Doctors told him that if he had been struck just two inches higher he would have likely died from his injuries.
He said: “I was making my way home and a group of guys started hurling abuse at me and my four friends.
“They told us we needed to die.
“I went to remove my friend from the situation as I didn’t want anything to help.
“As we were walking off someone called me a faggot and hit me from behind.
“If he hit me two inches up doctors said I would have died.
“He scarred my face, my lips, my eyebrows.”
Ryan, who now works for Admiral Entertainments in Preston, said he hasn’t returned to Manchester since the summer of the attack.
He said his confidence had taken a massive hit and after suffering from severe facial injury, he stopped modelling and doing drag work which he had been intensely passionate about.
He said: “It made me question myself a lot. I didn’t like myself. I shut myself down.
“I lost so much confidence. I used to be so confident and bubbly. But now I really overthink everything I do, and question myself.
“I don’t really go out and I don’t socialise.
“I’ve been attacked for being me.
“We’re all God’s creatures in the end. I’ve been made this way just the same way a heterosexual person has been made that way.”
During the sentencing, Judge David Potter told Forrester: “You have been committed to this court because the magistrates took the view that this was a homophobic attack and their powers were inadequate.
“It was a heavy blow, it sent him to the floor and left him with serious facial bruising and swelling. I have seen the photograph taken and they show horrendous facial injuries”
“For your part you had been out celebrating your 18th birthday. What a way to spend your birthday – you clearly drunk far too much and you became involved in this horrendous attack.”