Psychiatrist murder a ‘reminder of hate communities face for simply existing’
The homophobic murder of a father-of-two in a Cardiff park is a reminder of the hatred faced by the gay community for “simply existing”, a gay rights charity has said.
Stonewall Cymru said more needed to be done to tackle homophobia and raised concerns about comments made by the prosecution during a week-long trial at Merthyr Crown Court.
Dr Gary Jenkins, a respected consultant psychiatrist, was attacked by three people in Bute Park in the early hours of July 20 2021.
His injuries, which included multiple head fractures, were so serious he died 16 days later in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the University Hospital of Wales.
Three people, Jason Edwards 25, Lee Strickland, 36, and Dionne Timms-Williams, 17, were convicted of his murder on Thursday.
Dr Jenkins, who had worked in The Pendine Centre on Cowbridge Road West since moving back to Cardiff after becoming estranged with his wife, was bisexual, and was known by his friends and colleagues to go to the city centre park at night to participate in consensual sex with other men.
The prosecution said the attack on Dr Jenkins was “motivated by greed, homophobia and a straight forward liking of violence” and that the three accused had been “in search of vulnerable gay men who were in the park for sex” to rob.
Among the evidence was 15-minute long audio of the assault in which the three attackers can be heard shouting homophobic abuse at Dr Jenkins while they punched and kicked him.
In interview with police, Edwards called Bute Park a “dirty park” due to his knowledge that some men congregate there for sex.
However, some of prosecutor Dafydd Enoch QC’s remarks attracted public criticism.
During his opening speech Mr Enoch told the jury: “(Dr Jenkins’) sexual predilections would be his undoing.
“By engaging in that activity he rendered himself hopelessly vulnerable and he was an easy target as he wondered around Bute Park.
“By its nature the activity he engaged in was risky.”
Later saying that Dr Jenkins was well-liked despite his “lifestyle choices or peccadillos”.
Some have said the comments amounted to “victim blaming” or “biphobia”.
Wales’ education minister Jeremy Miles tweeted: “He was not ‘undone’ by his ‘sexual proclivities’. He was brutally attacked and died. We have a long way to go.”
Singer-songwriter Bronwen Lewis wrote: “I have sent an email to Dafydd Enoch about his blatant homophobia and victim blaming during this trial.
“It was so hard to read. Love to Dr Jenkins’ family, can’t imagine their pain.”
In his closing argument, Mr Enoch addressed some of the concerns raised on social media and said: “Let me say a word in passing about the concept of victim blaming.
“Gary Jenkins was in no way to blame for what happened to him.
“At the outset of the evidence, I read to you the statement of Paul Cantrell, Gary Jenkins’ line manager.
“And he stated that Dr Jenkins’ friends and colleagues became aware of his habit of visiting Bute Park at night looking for like-minded men.
“And he said his friends were very concerned about that.
“The prosecution simply points to the fact that Dr Jenkins was indeed vulnerable in that park.
“But we’re clear, he bore no responsibility for being a victim.
“Three people are responsible and they are these defendants.
“They seized upon his vulnerability to launch a gratuitously violent and homophobic attack.”
He added: “I remain at pains to remind you how highly regarded Dr Jenkins was as a human being and professionally, on every level.”
In a statement following the verdict Iestyn Wyn, campaigns, policy and research manager at Stonewall Cymru said: “Lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people should be free to go about their lives without fear or restriction, but the tragic death of Dr Jenkins is reminder of the hate our communities face for simply existing.
“Remarks made during the trial have further eroded the trust that our communities have in our justice system – where four in five (81%) of LGBTQ+ people already do not report hate incidents to the police.
“As people across the UK mourn the heart breaking loss of Dr Jenkins, the Government must take urgent action to challenge anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes and ensure all our communities are safe and free.”
A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesperson said: “The only people responsible for this horrific crime were those convicted today by the jury. The suggestion that Dr Jenkins was in any way to blame is completely wrong.
“We apologise for inappropriate and insensitive remarks made during the opening statement.”
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