Stockton homophobic burn attack 'very concerning'

Grounds of Holy Trinity Church, Yarm
Image caption A number of people, including children use the park, police said

A homophobic attack on a man set on fire and seriously injured is "very concerning", police have said.

The 20-year-old was confronted by four men who asked about his sexual orientation before one sprayed his legs with an aerosol and set them alight.

It happened in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church on Yarm Lane in Stockton at about 03:00 BST on Wednesday.

Det Insp Jon Tapper said Cleveland Police were classing it as a "hate motivated crime".

"We believe this occurred because of how the suspects perceived the victim to be, and what they perceived the victim to be, which is clearly not acceptable," he said.

"This is a residential area - a number of people use the park, including children - and the fact that people may attack somebody randomly and without motive is very concerning."

The man has been released from University Hospital of North Tees after having skin grafts on his calves.

Police have appealed for witnesses.

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