A couple who were left injured and bleeding following a savage attack during Leeds Festival are calling for a more stringent police presence and tighter security at this year’s event, which starts tomorrow (Thursday).
Leon Thompson, 32, and Stephanie Thompson, 29, were left with significant injuries to their head and face and being viciously punched and kicked by four men at last year’s event at Bramham Park.
The pair were attempting to move through last year’s annual rock gala - which kicks off for its 18th year today.
Following the attack, the couple had blood pouring from their head and large slashes to their faces, which later needed stitches, during what they say should have been a “brilliant” and “safe” weekend.
Stephanie, who is just 5’3”, said there wasn’t a visible police presence at the festival - which is spread over sites at Leeds and Reading - and their attackers escaped without punishment.
Leon, an engineering consultant, said: “We were in the dance tent on the Saturday and the place was heaving.
“We were just trying to get from one side to the other.
“We came across a group of four men who wanted us to pass them on the right rather than the left as they were stood next to a man on crutches.
“Me and Stephanie passed on the right as asked but the next thing I knew my hat was being taken off my head.
“When I turned round I got punched in the the face repeatedly and they started to kick me.
“Stephanie tried to intervene and got caught up in the attack, being hit and kicked as well.
“We were trying to defend ourselves but became separated and because it was so crowded we physically couldn’t get away.”
Leon, who was attending his 14th festival, said the couple couldn’t move during the attack and it was only when other festival goers stepped in that they were saved.
The couple are now calling for a more stringent police presence at the festival in the future and hope their case highlights the need for stronger security.
Although the police were called and attended the scene after the assault, the couple believe that the three hour wait for them to give statements left their attackers time to escape and that there has been no correspondence from the police since the festival ended.
Stephanie, an intensive care doctor, said: “The word security is laughable.
“There has been no follow up to catch who did this to us. The security was not adequate.
“What if there was a bomb or something at the arena?
“We thought we were in a place of safety but we weren’t.”
Festival Republic has been contacted for comment.
Leeds Festival boss Melvin Benn reassured music lovers that this year’s event will be the safest ever - after working closely with police anti-terrorist experts to “dramatically” increase security.
But while bag searches may take a little longer, festival-goers should get on site faster after an investment in extra training, resources and bigger entry lanes, he said.
The biggest change will be allowing only A4-sized bags into the main arena itself - which is now common practice at most concert venues.
Backstage security will also be tighter than ever with sniffer dogs used on production vehicles at the venue in Bramham Park.