A gang of cowards tortured a 17-year-old boy by beating, strangling and setting him on fire – because of his sexuality.
Thug Taylor Knight had previously been in a relationship with the victim, but still led a group of people in assaulting the boy due to his own ‘repressed sexuality’.
Knight, who appeared in court via videolink from HMP Brinsford in Staffordshire, also ‘abducted’ a 15-year-old girl, who became involved in the attack, BirminghamLive reports.
Birmingham Crown Court saw footage showing the victim on the floor as he was ambushed, with his attackers repeatedly calling him by a homophobic slur.
Bodycam footage from a police officer who intervened showed just how terrified the teenager was when officers were able to ask who was responsible for attacking him.
The victim later said that he had been ‘broken’ by the horrific ordeal.
Knight could not even bring himself to watch, turning away as the footage was played.
The 20-year-old, of Middlepark Drive, Northfield, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, theft, and child abduction.
Passing sentence, Judge Heidi Kubik QC stated he was fortunate for the Crown Prosecution Service’s ‘framing’ of the case, admitting her punishment powers were limited.
She jailed Knight for three years and eight months.
He had been in contact with the victim from early March last year and they had communicated over text, social media and phone calls, speaking about sex. They had also spent a night together.
But things turned sour on March 13 when the pair were in the company of Knight’s friend, nicknamed ‘Ace’, who made homophobic comments towards the 17-year-old.
“He was egged on and encouraged by this defendant, he didn’t stop it,” said prosecutor Omar Majid.
Then on March 18 the victim went to meet Knight at his flat in Moss Grove, Kings Heath, but en-route was called by Ace who again issued similar discriminatory slurs, ‘p****’ and ‘b**** b**’.
Also at the address were two teenage girls, one of whom was a 15-year-old Knight had been instructed not to associate with by a child abduction notice.
Mr Majid said: “The victim tried to explain he was actually in a relationship with the defendant as far as he understood it. That appears to be the trigger for the defendant to become violent.”
Knight threw a sandwich and water at the teenager’s face, prompting him to text his brother for help and include his location.
He was then cornered and punched and kicked to the ground as one of the group filmed gleefully on a mobile phone. But they were only just getting started.
“The defendant and those with him engaged in behaviour which can properly be described as torture,” said Mr Majid.
The victim was ordered to take off his shirt and trousers as they proceeded to ‘drag him around the flat’ before Knight threatened to ‘rape and burn him’. They followed through on the latter by using an aerosol can and lighter to singe his hair.
At that point his money and phone were taken from him. But still, the depraved attack escalated.
Mr Majid said: “The defendant proceeded to take a wire, place it around the victim’s neck and strangle him with it. He then put him in a headlock while ‘Ace’ kicked him in the face.
“They dragged him into the bathroom and made him sit in the bath in cold water and threw cigarette ends at him.”
Knight and Ace then left briefly to buy drugs, which is when the 15-year-old girl aimed boiling water at the victim. When Knight returned he threatened to kidnap and stab the young male.
Meanwhile the victim’s brother, who had been frantically trying to reach him, alerted police who arrived at the flat. Knight shamelessly claimed he did not know the victim but had brought him back to his flat after seeing outside a shop in a beaten state.
Police video showing an officer talking to the 17-year-old alone captured him quivering and fighting back tears, before bravely nodding to confirm his attackers were those in the same flat.
Mr Majid read an emotional statement the victim made later saying he now had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that the attack had ‘broken’ him and made him scared to sleep in case he dreamt about it.
The 15-year-old girl was convicted of theft and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and has previously been sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order. No action was taken against the second female while ‘Ace’ has never been identified.
Lawrence Selby, defending Knight, clarified that the girl he was banned from seeing visited him voluntarily that day and was not there against her own will. The barrister stated his client had a ‘troubled upbringing’ and was diagnosed with Autism, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a personality disorder but was now receiving effective treatment inside prison and was clean of drugs.
Turning to the attack, Mr Selby told the court Knight was ‘visibly agitated’ when shown the footage and said: “There’s genuine remorse. Once he has had it explained to him the impact of his behaviour he says he feels disgusted and shame for his actions.”
He argued the defendant was ‘not motivated by the victim’s sexuality but his own sexuality’.
But Judge Kubik ruled that it was a hate crime and said: “This clearly was a homophobic attack upon the victim. He was subjected to homophobic abuse by the group including yourself. The fact you chose to join in because of your own repressed sexuality or feelings does not prevent this being an offence within the meaning of the act.”
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