Couple’s battle to be moved out of Brent after homophobic attack in Wembley hostel
- Credit: Archant
A couple who suffered a brutal homophobic attack at their hostel in Wembley have accused Brent Council of putting their lives in danger by not rehousing them.
Andrew and Gustavo William-Coleman were left in hospital following a vicious attack at the Euro Hotel in Elm Road, Wembley, on June 6.
Police have installed CCTV cameras at the front door and front window, and given them a body camera and a panic alarm to keep them safe. The couple say they now live in terror “of being murdered”.
Andrew and Gustavo believe they were the victims of a targeted attack and are not out of danger.
Andrew was stabbed in the ear and suffered a bleed to his brain. His husband Gustavo’s face was fractured and will need numerous surgeries.
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Andrew has cancer and is a full-time carer for Gustavo, who has learning difficulties. He said: “Our underlying belief is that Brent Council is deliberately obstructing us and keeping us in a borough where we no longer want to be because of the risk of murder.”
During the attack, three men entered the couple’s room and one revealed a knife hidden up his sleeve.
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One went to stab Andrew in the ear while the others laid into Gustavo, fracturing his skull and jaw.
They made “homophobic and hateful” comments during the attack.
Fortunately, the three fled after a neighbour at the hostel entered the room, and the couple called the police.
They have pleaded with Brent Council to follow safety protocols and rehouse them – but they remain there.
That’s despite the fact that, last month, police were called when one of the alleged attackers returned to the couple’s flat.
He said they do not feel safe, citing “prostitution, pimps and drug dealers” operating from buildings “all the way up the road”.
He added: “In the six months I been here there have been six stabbings, two rapes, a GBH and a number of other injuries of people that we’ve seen coming out of these buildings.
“It’s become unlawful and not safe for anyone coming out after dark.”
He has called for the council to sign a “housing reciprocal agreement” over their case – a plan devised by housing charity Safer London to stop people ending up homeless as a result of hate crime, domestic violence, or risk from gangs.
He believes the agreement, if signed, would force the council to move the couple to safety.
They even have letters from the police and LGBT anti-violence charity Galop supporting their claim to be rehoused.
He added: “Police have given us a panic alarm, two CCTV cameras and body cameras because of the risk to us.
“Victim support and police both support us to get moved immediately to a nominated borough of our choice. We don’t want to live in Brent any more and we don’t want to move outside London as we have family here.”
Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime service for Galop, said: “This attack is extremely concerning.
“It raises serious questions about the willingness of housing organisations to take steps toward preventing anti-LGBT hate crime against their tenants.
“We are working with the couple and Stonewall Housing to provide assistance.
“We support them in their wish to move to safe accommodation away from the area where they were attacked.
“No one should have to remain in a situation where they feel under threat of violence or hatred.”
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: “This is a complicated situation and we are continuing to work with Mr William-Coleman to find him and his partner a suitable, safe place to live.”
She said any concerns about illegal activity in the area should be reported to the police.
A police spokesman said: “The matter is being investigated as a hate crime due to comments made during the assault.
“Two people – a woman, 32, and a man, 19 – have been arrested on suspicion of assault.
“The man has also been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs. Both have been released under investigation.”
Enquiries into the circumstances continue by police in Wembley.