Gareth Thomas: 'I have been the victim of a hate crime'

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Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas has spoken out about being the victim of a hate crime after he was assaulted in Cardiff.

The 44-year-old, who came out as gay in 2009, appeared bruised in a Twitter video, saying he was targeted because of his sexuality.

Officers dealt with a 16-year-old boy by way of restorative justice following a request by Thomas.

The former back said he felt this was the best way for his attacker to learn.

A visibly shaken Thomas, from Bridgend, spoke in the video about what had happened and also thanked police and the people of Cardiff for helping him on Saturday night.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Thomas scored 41 tries and made three Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions

"I was the victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality," he said.

"There are an awful lot of people out there who want to hurt us, but unfortunately for them there is a lot more who want to help us heal so this I hope will be a positive message."

A hate crime is any crime motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

Thomas, who also played full-back and wing, won 100 caps for Wales and captained the national side and the British and Irish Lions.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

His video was met with hundreds of messages from people supporting.

Former Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall tweeted: "Sorry it happened mate but there are thousands who support you. Love that you concentrate on the positives.

"Keep being a role model. Top guy."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Olympic 400m medallist Katharine Merry wrote: "So sorry to hear this Gareth.... but yes you are right .. there are a lot more that support than hate .. much love x"

And BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan tweeted: "Loads of love big man xx."

South Wales Police confirmed a 16-year-old boy was dealt with by way of restorative justice following the incident in The Hayes in Cardiff city centre at about 21:00 GMT on Saturday.

"Restorative justice was at the request of Mr Thomas and accepted by the teenager who admitted assault and was apologetic for his actions," it said in a statement.

"Restorative justice is about putting victim needs at the centre of the criminal justice system, finding positive solutions to crime and encouraging young people to be accountable for the consequences of their actions."

It added: "Hate crime has no place in society and has always been a priority for South Wales Police."

The Restorative Justice Council says the main principle behind restorative justice is that those responsible for a crime can communicate with victims about the impact it has had.