Family 'unsafe' after string of homophobic attacks

Brick that was thrown through window
Image caption The brick was thrown in the window of the family front room while they were sat in it

A woman whose grown son was targeted with homophobic abuse says the family no longer feel safe in their own home after a brick was thrown through their window.

The family, who live in south Bristol, have also had abusive notes and death threats posted to them.

The mother of the man, who wants to remain anonymous, told the BBC's Inside Out that the abuse was "horrible".

Police said a man aged 43 had been arrested over the notes.

He was released under investigation, Avon and Somerset Police said.

He had been questioned on suspicion of malicious communication.

The force said it was treating the note-sending and brick-throwing as "potentially linked" as they had affected one family.

The incidents come as figures show reports of homophobic abuse have doubled in the West of England.

In Avon and Somerset, there were 151 reports of abuse in 2011/12, but that rose to 403 in 2018/19. In total, over eight years, the force has recorded more than 2,000 incidents.

Avon and Somerset - 2,020

Gloucestershire - 219

Wiltshire - 273

Source: Freedom of Information requests

Mother Madeleine said her son was having problems coping since the abuse, which took place across June, July and August.

"It's not something he's dealing very well with," she said.

"I watch him walk down the road. I watch him walk up the road. It's like I've gone back to when he was little and now he's in his 20s."

Madeleine said in the weeks following the brick being thrown, notes began to arrive.

Image caption Madeleine said she worried about her son after homophobic attacks

They had also received a letter which said they were going to "kill all of us and the dogs".

"Then we had the most recent letter which is a homophobic death threat.

"It said: 'What you do is grim. There's only one place for people like you and that's dead.'"

Johanna Jenkins, from the LGBT Bristol group, said many incidents had shocked her, and the culprits had "issues".

"I think it runs an awful lot deeper that just having a problem with somebody because they're LGBT," she said.

"I think it runs deep within them. They need to reassess their behaviour.

"And they need to be educated and maybe perhaps get a little bit of support and counselling around their own thoughts."

Watch more on this story on Inside Out West on BBC One on Monday at 7.30pm.

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