Gang in homophobic attack at Lake Meadows, Billericay

Lake Meadows

Article by Ellis Whitehouse: Brave mums who stepped in to stop two boys from being threatened by a gang of 20 in a homophobic attack have been praised.

A manhunt is underway to find the members of a group who became aggressive to the two victims in Lake Meadows park, Billericay, on Thursday night at around 5pm.

It was reported the two victims were subjected to homophobic abuse and the incident is being treated as a hate crime.

Now the women with young children who were in the park that evening have been hailed as heroes after threatening to call the police, which dispersed the gang.

Jim Devlin, chairman of Billericay Town Council, said he was “disturbed” by the incident, but thanked the parents who went to the scene. He said:

“I’m very grateful to those that were described as ‘mother bears’ - mothers who had small children in the playground area. As soon as they got their phone out, the large group all ran off. She said ‘I’m calling the police’ and they all ran off, which probably was the right thing to do. That diffused the situation but if they hadn’t been there I’m not sure what would have happened. Whether these boys are local or not I don’t know, but whatever it is we need to nip it in the bud. I was very upset to hear about it. Obviously I am glad the police are taking it seriously."

A witness at the scene shared reports on social media of seeing about 20 yobs threatening the boys.

A spokesman for Essex Police said:

“We received reports of a group of people acting aggressively towards and threatening two boys in Lake Meadows, Basildon, shortly before 5pm on Thursday, July 1."

Essex Police said there was nothing to suggest that any actual weapons had been present in the attack, but Mr Devlin said the threat “was still there”.

He added:

“We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again, it sounds pretty horrific. Whether it was a real threat or not it doesn’t matter.”

Witness are urged to call 101 quoting incidents 858 and 968 of July 1 or visit essex.police.uk You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.

Article by Ellis Whitehouse, The Echo