Gay Theatre Student Who Claimed He Was Beaten by Homophobic Thugs Admits He Got His Injuries When He Fell Over
Harriet Arkell, Daily Mail (London), March 12, 2014
A drama student who became an internet sensation after claiming he was savagely beaten up for being gay has admitted he caused his injuries himself when he tripped on the pavement.
Richard Kennedy, 18, from Blackpool, told police he was set upon by a gang of homophobes when he left a gay nightclub in Preston, Lancashire, prompting officers to appeal for information about what they called a ‘particularly nasty assault’.
He posted photographs on Facebook of his battered and bleeding face, dislodged teeth, and gaping knee wound, with the caption ‘An example [of] why homophobia is wrong and it’s disgusting that it’s still around in 2014’. The post was shared by more than 182,000 well-wishers.
But today the teenager, who studies Contemporary Theatre and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, admitted he made it all up.
After being shown CCTV of him tripping and falling, face-first, onto the pavement, Kennedy accepted that the ‘utterly inhumane homophobic attack’ he had talked about actually never happened.
This afternoon Lancashire Police, who carried out a ‘detailed and thorough investigation’ into the alleged attack two weeks ago, confirmed CCTV showed the teenager had not been attacked by anyone, and had simply hurt himself when he fell over.
But police said Kennedy will not face any action for wasting police time as they were convinced he actually believed he had been assaulted when he spoke to police.
Detective Inspector Paddy O’Neill said: ‘We managed to recover some CCTV footage which shows the injured party falling face-first onto the pavement. We have showed him the CCTV and he now accepts his injuries were caused during the fall.
‘Having had oversight of the investigation . . . I accept his report was made in good faith.’
He added: ‘I am conscious that the initial reports into this incident will have been very upsetting for a number of people, and Preston city centre was portrayed in a very negative light.
‘Thankfully, there was no homophobic assault or any other assault on this occasion.’
After the alleged ‘attack’ outside the Evoque nightclub shortly after 3.30am on 26 February, Kennedy told how he was knocked to the ground and stamped on with such ferocity, four of his teeth were dislodged.
He also said he struggled to walk after suffering injuries to both knees.
The student later angrily relived his ‘ordeal’ on Facebook, posting before and after pictures and lamenting how ‘stupid’ he had been to walk home alone in a post which quickly went viral.
He wrote: ‘Here is my face after a homophobic attack: four of my teeth are gone, not fallen out but deep inside my gums and cheek… my face is swollen, both my knees are badly injured and I struggle to walk…
‘My whole face is constantly throbbing and I’m now on four tablets a day for pain and infection and may require surgery to sort out the damage.
‘All of this and what was their motive? Because of my f****** sexuality.’
Police initially said Kennedy was left so disorientated by the attack, he could not recall exactly where he was assaulted.
It is believed he walked around Preston city centre in a confused and distressed state for some time before police were alerted by a passerby.
In an interview with his local paper, he said: ‘I heard a group of men shouting homophobic abuse at me.
‘The next thing I know I was punched in the back of the head. I was violently assaulted – all because of my sexuality.
‘I was covered in blood and had my face stamped on, causing my teeth to go into my gums. I might need surgery to amend the damage done. It’s absolutely disgraceful to violently attack someone because of who they are.’
Kennedy went on: ‘From all of this, all I want is awareness…I want people to see what can happen if you are as stupid as me to be alone on a night out’.
Today Kennedy’s latest Facebook message made no mention of the police investigation. It read: ‘If you’re gay then you’re gay, if you’re straight well that’s great.’