Violent death has similarities to vicious assault on gay man
THE VIOLENT death of a Sligo man, in what has the hallmarks of a homophobic attack, bears resemblance to an almost fatal assault in the same town over 11 years ago.
Robert Drake (46), a gay writer from Philadelphia, had relocated to Yeats country to work on his latest book when he was attacked in his home on Holborn Hill in Sligo town on January 31, 1999.
Two local youths, who alleged he made a pass at one of them, beat him to within inches of his life.
Glen Mahon and Ian Monaghan were later convicted of assault causing serious harm and each sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.
Trial judge Anthony Kennedy described the events of that night as "truly shocking".
Mr Drake, who spent two weeks on a life-support machine following the attack, was eventually repatriated to Philadelphia where he spent months in hospitals and rehab centres.
He is confined to a wheelchair and has brain damage which impairs his memory and motor skills.
In an interview with the 'Philadelphia Gay News' last year, the writer revealed plans to set up a new organisation, Hate Crimes R Us, to provide assistance to people who find themselves victims of anti-gay bias.
"A bias crime is a bias crime. Hatred, unlike homosexuality, is learned. You choose to hate; you don't choose to be gay. At least I didn't," he said.