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Man bashed in St Kilda Botanical Gardens in alleged homophobic assault

A North Melbourne man had his nose broken during a brutal bashing in St Kilda Botanical Gardens that is believed to have been a homophobic hate crime. 

Danny Levi Bryce-Maurice told Fairfax Media he had been celebrating a  friend's birthday in St Kilda Botanical Gardens with his husband James on Saturday, January 9 when the alleged attack occurred around 10pm. 

The North Melbourne model and designer, who co-owns a Prahran hair salon, had walked away from his friend's picnic to go to the public toilet block near Herbert Street. 

As he entered the toilet block, Mr Bryce-Maurice encountered four men who began to hurl homophobic taunts at him. 

"The verbal abuse started as soon as they noticed me," he said, recalling that one of the men called him "faggot freak" and said: 'This is the men's toilet, not the the ladies, f----ing faggot, get the f--- out of here!'

As he left the toilet block, Mr Bryce-Maurice said the four men were waiting for him and blocked his path. He said that when he tried to pass, he was elbowed in the face by one of men


After he ran back to his group, several of his friends came to his aid and went back to confront the men.

Two of the men had subsequently left the park, but the two who remained became "very angry, agitated, aggressive", initially denying they had hit him.

"With this they came up in my face and started pointing and yelling abuse in my face, and attempting to prompt me to attack them back," he said. 

The verbal confrontation quickly turned physical as the two men grappled him to the ground, he said. 

Mr Bryce-Maurice described how he was repeatedly punched and kicked  while he lay on the ground.

"They started punching and kicking me repeatedly to the face, head, and finally my body," he said.  

"It was relentless. I could not defend myself."

Friends and onlookers tried to intervene, but were threatened with clenched fists, he said. 

The two men fled when they were informed police had been called.

Shortly after, police arrived and called an ambulance.

Paramedics treated the 32-year-old at the scene before he was driven to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where he stayed overnight.

Along with a broken nose, Mr Bryce-Maurice said he suffered cuts and bruises to his face, black eyes, facial swelling and bruising to his shoulder, hip and thigh along with a broken nose. 

"I am currently undergoing physiotherapy and waiting to see a nose, throat and ear specialist," he said. 

Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said St Kilda's crime investigation unit was investigating the incident, which was described as an "alleged prejudice-motivated attack".

The alleged attackers have not yet been caught.

Police are investigating the incident and encourage anyone who may have witnessed it to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

It came just days before a 15-year-old boy was hit by a man outside the Midsumma Carnival and later hospitalised

Mr Bryce-Maurice said the assault was unprovoked.

"Sadly, I am not surprised for it to happen in St Kilda or anywhere in Australia," he said, "Every time I leave the front door I prepare myself for some sort of abuse or hate. It has been like this my whole life."