A TEENAGE student was subjected to a brutal beating – just for having long hair.

Harley Davies, 17, was set on by a gang of youths who shouted an obsenity at him and told him to go and get his hair cut.

The A-level student was left with a fractured jaw and broken tooth during the lunchtime attack on the Blackburn College campus.

Campaigner Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie was killed for the way she looked, said the incident should be classed as a hate crime.

Harley’s dad Alan, of Moor Lane, Darwen, said: “Harley had being doing some homework over lunch and was walking on his own when this gang targeted him.

“They picked on him simply because of the way he looked.

“My son is a very laid-back lad. He is not a fighter and he does have a long-hair ‘hippy’ look about him. That’s his choice.

“He was singled out because of this by three members of this group who repeatedly shouted at him to get his hair cut.

"When he finally told them to get lost he was punched in the face by one of the youths and fell to the floor.

“He was kicked on the ground and went into the foetal position to protect himself.

“It only stopped when a member of college staff dragged one of the boys off him and they all ran away.

“He’s told me it was a frightening experience. He is completely harmless.”

An ambulance was called around 12.30pm on Tuesday and Harley was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. He spent three hours receiving treatment for his facial injuries.

Former Darwen Vale pupil Harley is in his second year at the college studying English language, literature and media.

The member of college staff told police she did not recognise the attackers as college students.

Police confirmed that the college CCTV camera which covered the incident was not working, but said they had other CCTV in the area which was forming part of their inquiries.

They are not classing the incident as a hate crime.

The three men are described as Asian and aged between 16 and 19 years old.

A police spokesman said: “This was a nasty and unprovoked assault and I would like to reassure people that a though investigation is under way.”

Mrs Lancaster said: “They have singled this boy out and attacked him because something in his appearnce sets him apart.

"That is a hate crime and I hope when the police investigate it they see sense and class it as such.

“It was the same with Sophie and it is not good enough. They deserve protection under law.”

Barry Griffiths, head of learner services at Blackburn College, said: “Harley Davies was assaulted on a public thoroughfare on campus in an unpleasant and unacceptable incident.

“The college security team are currently working with the police to find the offenders, and are in full dialogue with the student and his family. We hope to see Harley back in college next week.

“In terms of any violent behaviour, it is something we absolutely do not accept.

"We know, from a recent external study, that 97 per cent of our students feel the college is a safe place to learn, and we will do everything within our power to ensure this.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 0845 1253545 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555111.