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Victims speak of long-lasting impact of homophobic attack by teenage thugs

Thugs injure couple in unprovoked homophobic train attack

Zbynek Zatloukal and Phillip Poole after the attack

A couple subjected to an ‘horrific’ homophobic attack on a train have spoken about their struggle to return to normal – and their fear of showing each other affection in public.

Phillip Poole, from Maidenhead, and his partner Zbynek Zatloukal, were attacked as they returned home from a Valentine’s Day meal in Reading in February this year. In statements read out at the sentencing of the teenagers who attacked them, the couple described their physical pain and mental anguish, which has continued months after the violent incident.

Although his cuts and bruises have healed, Mr Poole, of West Road, still has a lump on his lip.

Partner Mr Zatloukal still experiences pain in his right eye – doctors initially feared he had broken his eye socket.

“I find it difficult to use trains in the evenings after the horrific attack on me and my partner,” said Mr Zatloukal’s statement, which was read out on his behalf by a prosecutor before magistrates retired to consider sentencing.

“If I see a group of people I move, and at times have stood in the toilet to get away from them.

“I don’t know how to explain how I felt immediately after.

“At first I tried to keep away from people, moving around and trying to watch what they were doing and I’ve become more aware of my surroundings.”

He added: “Phillip and I would hold hands and cuddle without worries about repercussions.

“I would never expect to be attacked in this manner, but since that night we’ve stopped showing affection in public.

“I told my family about what happened and they’re now scared about me being in the UK as I’m in fear of other attacks.”

Mr Poole said the ordeal had reversed progress he had made in dealing with depression, adding he has suffered nightmares in which he relives being punched.

Three youths, aged 15, 16 and 17, were each handed prison sentences on Thursday, September 14, for the attack after admitting violent disorder and, in one case, possession of an offensive weapon.

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