Kydis Zellinger has recalled the fear he felt after falling victim to an unprovoked homophobic attack on public transport.
The 18-year-old from Bristol was left with severe bruising and cuts after he was physically and verbally abused by 27-year-old Paul Austin on a bus on 15 October.
The attacker threw verbal homophobic abuse at Kydis as he boarded the vehicle, following up to the top deck and calling him a “fucking gay queer” before punching him in the face.
“I can’t understand why any human being could attack another in this way,” Kydis told Bristol Live. “I was scared for my life as he was towering over me in such a threatening manner and in such a rage.
“I don’t understand what I’d done to upset him – the only thing I can think of is he has a problem with my sexuality.
“Since this incident I have been left feeling emotionally drained and vulnerable. I have trouble sleeping as I have nightmares reliving the incident.”
He added: “I’m now frightened to go out as I’m frightened of strangers and that I may be attacked. I want this male to face up to what he’s done and realise his actions are not acceptable, to hurt people in this way just for being different.”
Paul Austin was arrested and later pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to the single charge of assault by beating.
Police reported the attack as a homophobic hate crime.
“This was a totally unacceptable display of violence motivated simply by the defendant perceiving the victim to be different,” said Chief Inspector Nigel Colston of Bristol South neighbourhood team.
“I’m pleased the victim was able to see his attacker face justice.”
“But we know anyone can be a victim of hate crime. Tackling hate crime, in all of its forms, is a priority for us.
“More people seem to be reporting hate crime but we want to reduce the instances of it occurring. It is not acceptable.
“We are working to make Avon and Somerset a place where there is no home for hate.”
Paul Austin has been sentenced to 18 weeks in prison for the homophobic hate crime.