Homophobic abuse left man 'shaken' and feeling unsafe in Fishbourne

Luke, 27, says he was left shaken after the incident. Picture by Kate Shemilt ks190462-1
Luke, 27, says he was left shaken after the incident. Picture by Kate Shemilt ks190462-1

A man who suffered homophobic abuse in his local bar now says he feels let down when no one stood in to defend him.

On June 6, Fishbourne resident Luke Titcombe 27, went to visit friends for a quick drink at his local, the Fishbourne Centre.

Luke had sat down to watch the football with his friends when a group of men moved on to the pool table in front of the television.

"He just got in front of me and said he was putting his 'backside' in my face — he didn't ask me to move in the slightest," said Tesco manager Luke.

"After that he began to mock me for what I was wearing."

Luke had just come from home and was wearing a hoodie that featured a picture of pop star Britney Spears on the front, which spurred the man to begin calling Luke 'Britney' among other slurs.

The man then said he would try not to hit Luke with the pool cue in case he 'turned him straight', he said.

"It went on for about 15 minutes and he made comments about my appearance and about me, even when he was at the bar I could hear his full conversation. It intimidated me to be victimised that. I know it's petty behaviour but its just not nice.

"When he started making it personal and about me it really got to me. Not one member of the public intervened."

After dealing with the treatment for more than half an hour, Luke's partner picked him up, but not before Luke told the man how he felt: "I said 'it's quite rude to mock someone when you don't know them'.

"I felt that was quite reasonable but when he heard it he approached me and he got right in front of me and put both hand on either side of my chair. I was scared and very intimidated.

"No friends, staff or members of the public stepped in to help me — I just felt let down. You would think that most people would be accepted but it all just seems to be going backwards."

Luke said the incident has left him 'shaken' now feels unsafe going around Fishbourne: "It's made me live more of a sheltered life."

A spokesman for the Fishbourne Centre said: "A complaint was made to the police and we have co-operated fully with police and passed on a copy of the CCTV footage. So far as we are aware the matter is still under investigation by the police.

"We do not condone the use of any behaviour that causes discomfort to other customers and in accordance with our policy we have issued the individual concerned with a formal warning that any further incident would result in a significant ban.

"This falls short of the action which the complainant would like us to take, however as an isolated incident it is in accordance with our policy."

The incident is said to have been 'fully investigated' by the centre who described the incident as 'an angry exchange of words arising from a dispute about access to the pool table' and 'not sustained abuse'.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: "On June 6 we received a report that a man had been subjected to homophobic abuse while in the bar at the Fishbourne Centre at Blackboy Lane, Fishbourne.

"A 46-year-old man has been interviewed under caution on suspicion of using abusive and insulting words to cause harassment and alarm, and enquiries continue."