Exclusive: Gay couple viciously attacked by gang armed with ‘wooden panel with nails in’

The attack in east London on Sunday comes as latest figures reveal there are more than 24,000 hate crimes a year against people because of their sexual orientation.

Callum Griggs was subjected to a homophobic attack in east London on Sunday. (Brad Balueta/X)
Callum Griggs was subjected to a homophobic attack in east London on Sunday. (Brad Balueta/X)

A gay man was hospitalised after a gang attacked him in broad daylight as he walked past shops with his partner.

Callum Griggs was kicked and punched by the gang on Chadwell Heath High Road, east London, at 5.30pm on Sunday.

He was walking with his partner, Brad Balueta, when they were targeted by a gang of six or seven youths who began to taunt them.

Balueta, 24, told Yahoo News UK: "I had spotted them and had put my head down. I am aware of situations and hoped we could just walk past, but they began to fire homophobic slurs at us, calling us 'batty boys' and 'fags'.

"Callum calmly asked them what they said, and one told him he knew where he lived, then named the street, and told him, "I will kill you".

"I am out and proud but in all my life I have never felt so scared. He clearly knew where my boyfriend lived, and was very aggressive."

Balueta said the gang were aged around 18 to 20 years old and were standing outside a fast food shop. Balueta said they began to jeer each other on, and that one grabbed a wooden panel with nails in.

He said: "He started waving it around, and near Callum's face. They seemed to feed off each other and got more aggressive."

Brad Balueta (L) and Callum Griggs were attacked on the street. (Brad Balueta)
Brad Balueta, left, and Callum Griggs, right, were targeted on the street in east London. (Brad Balueta)

As the situation escalated, the couple saw people inside shops watching, but no one came to their aid.

Balueta said: "It is all a bit hazy after that - one of them went for Callum, he grabbed his shirt then another sucker-punched him in the back of the head.

"I was terrified, they were piling on to him and it was three on one. They were punching and kicking him.

"So many people were staring but nobody came to help."

The attack lasted several minutes before the group fled, with one laughing as he shouted at Griggs: "I've got your blood on my hands."

Two women in a passing car saw Griggs's injuries and stopped to help. They took the pair home where they called police.

Griggs, a 23-year-old teaching assistant and sports coach, was told to go to hospital and call back on his return.

'People did nothing'

After 13 hours at A&E undergoing treatment - Griggs suffered a gash in his eye that needed glued back together - the pair returned home and called police again.

Balueta says they were told they would receive a visit at 2pm on Monday, but no one arrived. They were then told officers would visit later that day, then on Tuesday, but said nobody came to take statements until Wednesday morning.

"We wanted to go public because so many people just watched and did nothing," said Balueta.

"This has been happening to our community for years and is still happening in front of our very eyes today.

"Verbal or physical, homophobia and transphobia is a real thing, it needs to be called out."

Jon Cruddas, the local Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, told Yahoo News UK he was "saddened" to hear about the attack.

He said: "I was saddened to hear about the recent violent hate crime in Chadwell Heath which was reported on social media.

Local MP Jon Cruddas has told Yahoo News UK he will be speaking to the local authority and police to ensure the incident is investigated. (Getty Images)
Labour MP Jon Cruddas told Yahoo News UK he will speak to the local authority and police to ensure the incident is investigated. (Getty Images)

"It is appalling that prejudices like this are still affecting our community. I will be making representations to both the local authority and police to seek assurances that this will be investigated, and that all efforts are being made to support the LGBT community who may feel vulnerable following this incident.

"There is no place for homophobic hate in modern Britain."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police told Yahoo News UK they could not comment on the incident at this time.

Homophobic attacks in Britain

The government has revealed that there are more than 24,000 hate crimes per year against people because of their sexual orientation.

Home Office data published on Thursday showed that in the year to March 2023, the most recent period for which data is available, there were 24,102 hate crimes against people in Britain because of their sexual orientation.

Although this was a slight drop from the previous year, it is more than 10,000 more than were reported in year year to March 2019, and does not include figures from Devon and Cornwall Police.

Transgender hate crimes increased by 11% on the past year to 4,732 offences.

Robbie de Santos, director of external affairs at Stonewall, told Yahoo News UK: “As a survivor of a violent attack myself, I know the awful reality behind these rising numbers.

"What concerns me even more is that political leaders haven't acted seriously or quickly enough. Instead many of them are filling the public domain with toxic language that dehumanises LGBTQ+ people and legitimises violence.

"The UK government failed to implement any sort of strategy that responds to their own statistics and reports. We need a strong and committed leadership that moves away from divisive distractions and instead addresses the real problems of people in this country.

"We shouldn't be treated like second-class citizens.”

Update: Police said in a statement given to Yahoo after the article was published: "Police are investigating an attack in which a man was assaulted. While police continue to investigate the circumstances, at this stage the assault is being treated as homophobic.

"No arrests have been made. The Met is aware of the corrosive effect of Hate Crime and is determined to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice.

"Any witnesses or anyone with any information or footage is asked to call police on 101 or contact via ‘X’ Twitter @MetCC. Please quote CAD 5640/01OCT.

"To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org."