Thomas Pickford and Scott Walker were sentenced today to life in prison for the brutal October 14th killing of barman Jody Dobrowski on London’s Clapham Common.
The killers stuffed a shoe in their victim’s mouth and beat him so badly he was only identifiable through fingerprints. Dobrowski had never come out to his family, but his sexuality became clear to them after police gave them the news that Jody was targeted because he was gay.
“Jody knew he was loved and accepted. He knew that we knew. He was also a young man still discovering his identity and was facing the difficulty of having to ‘come out’ which straight people never have to face. The timing of this was up to him. He had very little time. He did not know that.”
They also denied that he had left his home town of Gloucestershire because of intolerance: “It is difficult for same-gender partnerships to be openly displayed in Gloucestershire…We would not disagree that homophobia exists here as it does everywhere. We have yet to read a report in our local press, however, of such a horrific attack on someone thought to be gay in Gloucestershire. That happened in London.”
Reporting on the sentencing, the BBC today said that Jody’s killing was just “the tip of the iceberg” as far as anti-gay attacks are concerned, and talked to activist Peter Tatchell about the risks gay people face in the UK. Tatchell: “Many gay people are still fearful of their safety on some white working class council estates and in some sections of the black and Muslim communities there are pockets of extreme prejudice. This can make it quite unsafe for someone to be known to be lesbian or gay and extremely unsafe for them to hold hands with their partner or give them a kiss goodbye at the bus stop.”
Unfortunately, things are not any safer across the pond.
Said the judge at the sentencing of these two thugs: “It was Jody’s tragic misfortune to cross your path. You subjected him to mindless abuse and showed him no mercy. In those few seconds you took from him the most precious possessions – his life and future.”