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Jody Dobrowski

Jody Dobrowski

Jody Dobrowski (27 July 1981 - October 14 2005) was a 24-year old assistant bar manager who was murdered on Clapham Common in south London. On October 14, at around midnight, he was beaten to death with punches and kicks by two men who perceived him to be gay. Tests carried out at St. George's Hospital in Tooting, South London revealed Dobrowski had a swollen brain, broken nose and extensive bruising to his neck, spine and groin. His family were unable to identify him due to his face being so badly disfigured and he had to be identified by fingerprints.

His two assailants, Thomas Pickford and Scott Walker, pleaded guilty to the murder of Dobrowski at the Old Bailey criminal court on May 12 2006 and sentenced to life imprisonment on June 16 2006 with a minimum of 28 years to be served. Both men had been involved in an attack against a gay man two weeks prior to the murder of Dobrowski. Walker had been out on license due to threats against his mother but the license had expired the day before the murder, however, it had not expired at the time of the previous homophobic assault.

This was a landmark case in Britain, where Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was utilised in sentencing the killers. This Act empowers courts to impose tougher sentences for offences motivated or aggravated by the victim's sexual orientation in England and Wales. The trial judge was His Honour Judge Brian Barker QC.

Background

Dobrowski was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire. He studied BSc Biomedical Sciences with Toxicology at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and moved to London in 2001. There he got a job as show manager at the Battersea Jongleurs/Bar Risa club, the flagship venue of the famous stand up comedy club chain. A few weeks prior to his murder, Dobrowski was offered an assistant manager position at the Camden Lock branch of the club.

In an interview with The Times the bouncer for the club that Dobrowski worked at said, "if you had met this gentleman, you would know him to be a fresh-faced young man who never said a nasty word to anyone, even to the drunks who came in off the street. That was his way: a kind, sweet guy. After the sentencing of Pickford and Walker, Dobrowski's family made a joint statement describing him as, "an intelligent, funny, hardworking and beautiful man, whose life was brutally and mercilessly punched and kicked from him.

The attack

The last hours of Dobrowski's life are not totally clear. On Friday October 14 2005 it is reported that he visited friends in Clapham where he had worked prior to moving clubs for his promotion. He left friends at around 10.15pm and was a ten minute walk from Clapham Common. His killers had been roaming Clapham Common after a night of drinking. The judge, Brian Barker, said that the pair had gone to Clapham Common specifically to commit acts of "homophobic thuggery". Dobrowski crossed paths with the two men who automatically assumed he was gay, as Clapham Common is a well known cruising site for gay men.

Police say there was a short exchange of words before Pickford started to throw punches at Dobrowski. Walker then joined in the attack. One witness who intervened was warned off and told, "We don't like poofters here and that's why we can kill him if we want." They then continued their attack for an unknown length of time whilst, according to witnesses, continually throwing homophobic insults.

The injuries that were left were so severe a pathologist was unable to identify how many times he had been hit, however did identify 33 areas of injury to the head, face, ears and neck. Dobrowski had to be identified by fingerprints. A police officer who arrived at the scene of the crime described him as, "a bloody swollen pulp. He was unconscious when found in the early hours of Saturday 15 October and died from his injuries later in hospital. There was a lot of media attention on the attack due its brutality, a lot of attention was placed on Dobrowski's sexuality and this being considered a hate crime. Police eventually tracked down the murderers who both eventually confessed on May 12 2006 and given a life sentence with a minimum of 28 years. In January they originally denied committing the offence.

See also

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