Slug and Lettuce bouncer smashed glass on man’s head in homophobic attack on Leeds Pride day

A bouncer has been jailed after he smashed a glass over a man’s head in a homophobic attack during Leeds Pride.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:45 pm

James Withers, 28, of Wayland Approach, Adel, was working as a doorman at the Slug & Lettuce bar in Boar Lane when he approached his victim on August 4, 2019.

Leeds Crown Court heard that the victim, a gay man, had been celebrating Leeds Pride with his friends when they decided to have some food in the venue.

The victim was approached by Withers when he went to the bathroom. Withers told him he needed to leave and subjected him to a homophobic slur.

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James Withers, 28, of Wayland Approach, Adel, has been jailed after attacking a man in the Slug & Lettuce bar where he worked.

The court heard that the victim told him he needed to finish and pay for his food so Withers escorted him back to his table.

When the victim arrived back at the table, he made a sarcastic comment to Withers. In retaliation, Withers then picked up a wine glass and smashed it into his face.

Friends of the victim told police that there was “blood everywhere”, prosecutor Lucy Brown told the court.

Withers left the bar as paramedics came to help the victim before he was taken to hospital.

The victim suffered a five centimetre laceration to his face and two smaller lacerations.

He required surgery and had 22 stitches in total.

He has been left permanently scared.

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim said that since the attack he would rather keep his head down than let people know of his sexuality.

He said: “The scar is still with me as a constant reminder that the world is not a safe space and some people will hurt you just because of who you are”.

Withers pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and accepted that there was a homophobic element to it, the court was told.

Jeremy Barton, mitigating, said: “The defendant can make no excuses for what he did because it was abhorrent and wrong.

“There is no suggestion that this defendant has ever engaged in any prejudiced activity with anyone previously.

“The defendant is genuine and this was an out of character act.”

The court heard a written statement from Withers’ parents, which read: “He is a kind and considerate person.

“What happened that night he regrets.

“It weighs heavily on him and us as a family”.

Withers struggles with depression and anxiety, the court was told.

Recorder Jeremy Hill-Baker sentenced him to two years in prison for unlawful wounding (section 20).

He was ordered to serve at least half of that in prison and be on license for the remaining period.

Recorder Hill-Baker said: "He [the victim] thought he was going to bleed to death.

"He is frightened to go out, is on edge and is worried about being able to express his sexuality openly - something he should be able to do without fear.

"In his own words, it feels like your actions have forced him back into the closet.

"This offence requires me to state in open court that your hostility was based on his sexuality”.