A woman who was part of a five-strong group who subjected a
teenage girl to a torrent of homophobic abuse before attacking her
on a train between Hastings and Bexhill has been jailed for six
April James (20), of Carfax Close, Bexhill, was sentenced at
Hastings Magistrates' Court on Monday, 14 May after pleading guilty
to assault by beating at a previous hearing.
The incident took place on Saturday, 15 October 2011 after the
victim, from Bexhill, had attended the Hastings bonfire procession
with her then girlfriend.
After exchanging a kiss with her partner the victim was subjected
to a torrent of homophobic abuse by a group of five girls,
including April James.
The victim objected to the group's comments but was attacked and
fell over, with James admitting having kicked her to the head or
shoulder while she lay on the floor.
The attack stopped when the train arrived at Bexhill, with the
victim, James and the other girls leaving the train.
James was identified through social networking site Facebook as
one of the attackers and was subsequently arrested and charged by
Speaking after sentencing, through a statement issued by British
Transport Police (BTP), the victim's mother said: "I'm immensely
proud of my daughter and the choice she has made but this incident
left her feeling ashamed and has had an immeasurable impact on her
and the rest of our family.
"In this day and age everyone should have the right to go about
their business and be who they want to be without fear of abuse or
"The last seven months since the incident took place have been
very long and difficult. We're relieved that this has now been
dealt with by the courts because it will allow us to try and move
on together as a family and put this behind us."
PC Billy Burstow, the investigating officer, said: "After
experiencing homophobic abuse from April James and the rest of the
group, the girl was violently attacked and stood no chance of
defending herself against five others.
"I hope the prison sentence handed down to April James shows that
violence and discriminatory, homophobic abuse will simply not be
tolerated by the police and the courts."
Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, said: "People in Hastings and Bexhill
will no doubt feel safer knowing that April James is now behind
bars. Stonewall has campaigned hard to make sure anti-gay crime is
treated seriously by the police and courts. We remain mindful that
she was educated in secondary schools in this country in the last
five years. If Britain's schools continue to fail to tackle
homophobic bullying then there's a risk we'll continue to see this
sort of incident."