UK

Mankini Charity Walkers Branded 'Paedophiles' And Pelted With Eggs

06/08/2013 16:27 BST

Two men who went on a sponsored walk wearing comedy mankinis had to be escorted to safety by police - after locals branded them paedophiles and pelted them with stones and eggs.

Steven Ellis, 41 and brother-in-law Jason Hendry, 22, had planned to walk eight miles from Solihull to Birmingham city centre to raise money for Birmingham Dogs' Home - but had to be joined by officers after they were attacked as they passed through the Sparkbrook area of the city.

The pair say the police told them their skimpy outfits had caused offence to locals during Ramadan, and that tensions were high due to an upcoming EDL march.

mankini charity walk

The men were raising money for a dog charity

Ellis’s wife, Victoria, 36, had followed the pair’s journey in a car along with their five children.

She said: "We had stopped at a supermarket car park to give the dogs a drink as it was a hot day, and we were suddenly surrounded.

"The men were taking off their jackets and threatening to fight Jason. I have seen nothing like it in my life before. The children were terrified as within minutes a crowd of 30 or 40 men assembled and began throwing stones and eggs at us.

"They were shouting at Jason saying that he was a pervert and a paedophile, and one of them called me a ‘dirty white slag’.

"They told us that they hated dogs and told us to get out of the car park. The children were petrified and asked why these people were calling me a slag and what was a pervert.

"One egg narrowly missed hitting my 12-year-old son, Jason, leaving him petrified and even passing cars ended up being hit by the eggs and stones.

"The abuse was appalling. We called the police and they came straight away. I asked the police what they were going to do to help us but they just said it was because of sensitivities over an EDL march and Ramadan.

mankini charity walk

"We didn't even know there was an EDL march planned for that day - we had nothing to do with it. Our family just love dogs, we've homed a rescue dog and we wanted to raise money to help the charity."

Hendry said: "A man who was in a nearby hairdresser came over and started having a go at us and then a guard at the supermarket and the manager came out and joined in.

"It was disgusting behaviour. I was furious. I was angry with the local people for how they reacted and we tried to explain it was just a bit of fun, to raise money for charity."

The police escorted them all back to Birmingham Dogs' Home as there were two "gangs" of men waiting at the end of the road.

He added: "But it was also frustrating to have to be escorted as it made us feel like we had done something wrong. I am shocked and disgusted that this should happen in our city. It was like something you see on TV.

"The idea behind the mankini walk started off as a dare and then we decided to make it a reality and do it to raise money for charity."

"We have a love and passion for dogs and we both wanted to do it to raise money for Birmingham Dogs' Home."

The men raised £300 from the event, and have donated the money to the Dogs' home.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: "Police were called to reports of tensions on Stratford Road in Sparkhill at around 2:50pm on 20 July due to a group of men wearing fancy dress whilst on a charity walk.

"Officers attended and worked closely with those at the scene to resolve the situation peacefully in order to ensure no unnecessary or unintended upset was caused.

"Police left the area around 25 minutes later and there were no further calls to the location."