Man comes forward as police hunt suspects over brutal homophobic attack on London-bound train

Mark Chandler, Hatty Collier
Police want to speak to four men in connection with the incident: British Transport Police

A man has come forward to police following a brutal homophobic attack on a couple who were travelling home on a train from a Valentine’s Day dinner.

British Transport Police said they are still hunting for four other men wanted in connection with the attack on Phil Poole, 35, and boyfriend Zbynek Zatloukal, 26.

The couple were travelling on a London-bound train from Reading when they were set upon by a group of men.

In a statement, BTP confirmed that one of five men wanted in connection with the assault had come forward to speak to police.

Victim: Phil Poole

Officers are still appealing for the remaining four, pictured in still CCTV images released by police on Friday, to come forward.

Mr Poole told the Standard a group of men had yelled a homophobic slur at Mr Zatloukal while Mr Poole slept on his shoulder after the pair missed their stop at Maidenhead.

He claimed he was awoken near Ealing Broadway by a punch to his face at around 1.05am on February 15.

Mr Poole was left with severe cuts and bruises and was knocked unconscious in the horrific subsequent attack which saw them hit and kicked repeatedly despite trying to get away.

Phil Poole (left) was attacked on a train with his boyfriend Zbynek Zatloukal

His partner suffered a suspected broken eye socket and had his front teeth knocked out.

The attack took place on a Reading to London Paddington service.

Investigating officer PC Peter Taylor said: “This was a very nasty assault committed by a group of men who attacked two other men while they were sleeping on the train.

“The victims believe the motivation for the attack was that the offenders thought they were gay.”

Describing the attack, Mr Poole told the Standard: “I can’t really remember much about what happened because I was in such shock when I woke up.

“I managed to get up and stumble down the carriageway but then they followed me.

“I’m not a violent person at all. I’ve never even been punched so I didn’t even know how to defend myself."

PC Taylor said: “Hate crime such as this will absolutely not be tolerated by British Transport Police.

“I would like to speak to anyone who recognises the men shown in the CCTV images as they may have information which could help with the investigation.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0800 40 50 40 or text information to 61016 quoting reference number 30 15/2/17.