CCTV shows full story behind photograph
Three teenage boys charged with harassing two women on a London night bus have pleaded guilty to public order offences in a London youth court on Thursday.
Melania Ramirez, 28, (previously Melania Geymonat) and her date for the evening Christine Hannigan, 29, were riding a night bus in Camden, North London, in the early hours of 30 May 2019 when they were confronted by a group of five teens who pelted them with coins and asked them to kiss in front of them.
The teens - who could not be identified due to their age - range from 15 to 17 years old and all three who were charged pleaded guilty to public order offences. The 15 and 16-year olds also admitted handling stolen goods including a handbag, bank card and mobile phone belonging to the women.
A fourth boy, also 17, was allowed to leave after the Crown dropped charges against him.
CCTV footage shown in court revealed five boys entering the night bus bound for Camden and sitting at the back of the top deck.
Some minutes later, Ms Ramirez and Ms Hannigan board the bus to sit at the front of the top deck where they are quickly approached by three of the boys who sit on seats opposite and around them.
Video of the nine minute incident contains no audio but shows the women being affectionate with one another as the boys sit closely watching them. The video shows Ms Ramirez putting her arm around Ms Hannigan as she pretends to be sick. At one point, one teen sits behind them and makes a "scissors" gesture with his hands, while Ms Ramirez stands up and appears to be trying to deflect attention from Ms Hannigan as she talks to the boys.
Minutes later, after the women have coins thrown at them, Ms Hannigan gets up and moves to the back of the bus where a brawl breaks out. The women and boys then move downstairs. After the boys get off, Ms Ramirez and Ms Hannigan can be seen climbing the stairs to the top deck again with blood on their clothing and faces.
A picture of the incident taken by Ms Ramirez at the time made headlines around the world.
Judge Susan Williams said the footage showed a couple having a nice time when a "group of young men who seem to think this is an enormous joke, come down like the tide coming in, watching them as if it's some kind of sideshow."
She said the behaviour was "all a bit adolescent and a bit childish and offensive."
"I hope young men would be able to tolerate behaviours of others and not carry on the way they did," she said.
"I don't think I'd describe it as a "hate crime'," Judge Williams said, adding: "It's perfectly obvious the fact that this is a same sex couple is what's attracted the attention of these boys in the first place."
David Wood, lawyer for the 17-year-old boy, agreed the behaviour was childish but said his client had not carried out a targeted homophobic attack.
Judge Williams said she would hear evidence from the 17-year-old boy and the two victims on the issue on Friday, local time, in order to determine sentencing.
All teens were released on conditional bail, with the 15-year-old sentenced on 23 December and the 16-year-old on 19 December. The hearing continues.