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Police have said a young man has been set on fire and seriously injured in a homophobic attack.

The victim, aged 20, had been walking past Holy Trinity Church on Yarm Lane in Stockton, County Durham when four men stopped him and started asking him questions about his sexual orientation.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police told the Hartlepool Mail: ‘He ignored them and continued onto Parliament Street. One of the men then approached him from behind and sprayed an aerosol can at the victims legs which he then set alight, causing burns to the victim’s calves.’

The young man was treated at North Tees University Hospital where he received treatment for his burns.

The man who lit the aerosol has been described as white, in his early 20s, medium build, with short blonde hair. He was bare-chested and wearing jogging bottoms.

Cleveland Police said they were treating the attack as a homophobic hate crime and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward and call the police on 101.

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