Police are hunting a group of men who viciously attacked a Spanish couple in one of Britain’s most historic tourist cities – simply because they were foreign.
Officers are treating the attack in York – in which a 24-year-old man was repeatedly punched and kicked for about 10 minutes – as a racially aggravated assault.
While the man was being beaten, other members of the group held down his 29-year-old girlfriend, police say. The ordeal only came to an end when a passing taxi driver stopped to help them. The assault – which could harm the city’s reputation as a welcoming venue for holidaymakers – took place in the centre of York and just a short distance from the Shambles, one of Britain’s most visited streets.
“This is a very disturbing incident which will quite rightly shock the local community in York and those who regard the city as a friendly and safe place to visit,” said PC Sophie Wilson of North Yorkshire Police. “We are providing support to the young couple from Spain who have had their stay tarnished in the most sickening and vicious way.”
The Spanish couple were on holiday in York when they were attacked after leaving a bar in the city centre.
The man was repeatedly beaten as he staggered from New Street to Coney Street and into St Helen’s Square before the attackers broke off when spotted by a taxi driver.
The victim suffered severe injuries including a broken jaw, extensive bruising and chipped teeth. He was taken to York Hospital where he underwent emergency treatment.
All five of the group were described as white, in their early to mid-twenties and with short or shaven hair. They all spoke with English accents. One of them was described as around 5ft 7in and was wearing a short-sleeved, light-coloured T-shirt with trousers.
Police are anxious to trace anyone who witnessed the attack and are particularly keen to speak to the taxi driver who, after going to the help of the couple, disappeared.
“The victims are extremely grateful to the taxi driver for having the decency to stop and help when they were in a very frightening situation,” said PC Wilson.