A 19-YEAR-OLD man staged a homophobic attack on two gay men enjoying a night out in Blackburn town centre.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael Lee Hannan shouted that he hated gays before launching his unprovoked attack.

Hannan, of Sunnybank Road, pleaded guilty to assaulting the teenagers, aged 18 and 17.

He was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 15 months, ordered to pay £200 compensation to each of his victims and £85 costs.

Imposing the sentence the chairman warned Hannan that any breach of the order or repeat of his “disgraceful” behaviour would be likely to trigger an immediate prison sentence.

“The severity of the assaults and the nature of the abuse is very distressing and disturbing,” said the chairman.

“People who go into town for a night out do not expect to be abused like this.”

Claire Grant, prosecuting, said both the victims were gay and open about their sexuality.

The 18-year-old and some friends were approached by Hannan and a number of his friends who asked for cigarettes.

A female member of the group gave Hannan a cigarette to try and prevent any trouble but he became abusive and made homophobic comments.

“The group walked away to a bus shelter near the Boulevard where they were joined by the 17 year old,” said Mrs Grant.

“Hannan and his friends followed and continued to be abusive.”

Mrs Grant said that without any warning Hannan punched the 17-year-old hard to the side of the face and then punched him again on the jaw and in the eye.

He then headbutted the other victim and followed up with a punch to the face.

Richard Prew, defending, said Hannan suffered from psychosis for which he was taking medication.

“At the time of this incident he had not been taking his medication and had been drinking heavily,” said Mr Prew.

He said the Probation Service was already working with Hannan under an order made for a racially aggravated assault.

“They are making progress in respect of his attitude to others who aren’t the same as him and he has stopped drinking,” said Mr Prew.