Police have today charged four teenage boys – one as young as just 15-years old – with the homophobic assault of a member of Ryanair cabin crew and her girlfriend on a London night bus. The shocking incident, that occurred in the early hours of 30th May, made headlines around the world after images of bloodied and shocked Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris quickly went viral.
Several suspects were detained by the Metropolitan Police within days of the attack but were soon bailed pending further enquiries. We now know four of those suspects have been charged by prosecutors and they will appear before Highbury Corner Youth Court for an initial hearing on Wednesday 21st August.
Despite the vicious assault and the fact that the suspects were originally arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, the suspects have only been charged with what is known as a “public order” offence which involves intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.
As prosecutors have classed the incident as a hate crime, the suspects could face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment if found guilty.
The youngest of the group, a 15-year old boy was also charged with handling stolen goods, while a 16-year-old suspect has been charged with theft and handling stolen goods. A second 16-year-old suspect was charged with possession of Cannabis. The oldest of the four suspects is just 17-years old.
A Go Fund Me page was set up by Melania’s colleagues shortly after the attack and cabin crew from around the world, as well as other well-wishers, helped to raise over £4,500 to support the couple. Melania told reporters at the time that the attack started when the suspects demanded she and Chris start kissing for their enjoyment.
“They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us lesbians and describing sexual positions,” recalled Melania.
“I don’t know yet if my nose is broken and I haven’t been able to go back to work, but what upsets me the most is that violence has become a common thing. I’m tired of being seen as a sexual object, of finding out that these situations are usual, of gay friends who were beaten up just because.”