Murder hunt as man dies after homophobic assault

A murder inquiry was under way today after a man died of injuries inflicted during a suspected homophobic attack.

Ian Baynham, 62, suffered fatal head injuries in an assault close to the South African High Commission, in Trafalgar Square, central London.

He died in hospital last night when doctors switched off his life support machine, more than a fortnight after the attack on September 25.

Police want to trace three young people, including two teenage girls who were caught on CCTV, seen in the area.

Mr Baynham, from Beckenham, south east London, suffered severe brain damage when he was punched and kicked to the ground. His attackers shouted homophobic abuse.

He was on his way to a night out in the West End with a 30-year-old friend when the attack took place shortly before 11pm.

The two men had just got off a number 24 bus in Duncannon Street when three youths confronted them and shouted abuse. The friend was treated for minor injuries.

Detectives from Scotland Yard's Homicide and Serious Crime Command are investigating the murder.

They want the public to help them identify the two girls who may have been sitting in the square with a dark-skinned male youth earlier that evening.

Investigators said the three, all aged between 16 and 20, are suspected of shouting verbal abuse at other people as well.

In July, Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson highlighted his concerns over how the number of homophobic crimes in the capital was increasing.

He said the force's response to such crimes was "light years" ahead of what it was in the past, and victims were more willing to report offences.

Senior officers were told homophobic crimes have increased by almost 14%, an extra 39 offences, since April, and there has also been an increase nationally.

There have been three other suspected homophobic murders in the capital over the past year.

In July, 79-year-old Edward Highwood was murdered at his home in Hollymount Close, Greenwich. Neighbours and friends feared he was targeted because he was gay.

Gerry Edwards, 59, was stabbed to death at his flat in Bromley, south east London, in March. His partner also suffered stab wounds.

In November 2008, David Cooper, 28, was beaten to death at his flat in Calderwood Street, Woolwich. He had been drinking in Soho the night before his murder.

Councillor Daniel Astaire, of Westminster City Council, said he is "extremely concerned" by the attack.

He said: "While such incidents are extremely rare in Westminster, we do not tolerate any violence or homophobia of any kind.

"We will offer any support we can to the police to help catch those responsible, and work with the local community to help prevent any such attack occurring again.

"We are incredibly proud of Soho's vibrant gay community, which welcomes visitors from around the world and is an essential part of the area's rich heritage.

"We are confident the local community will rally round and not be intimidated by this mindless, abhorrent act of violence which tragically resulted in an innocent man losing his life.

"Their safety is of paramount importance to both the police and council, and we would urge anybody who has any information which could help, no matter how small or apparently inconsequential, to contact the police."

Anyone with information, or who recognises the two young women in the CCTV images, should call 0207 321 9314 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower