DETECTIVES investigating a city centre stabbing which left the victim seriously ill in hospital suspect he may have been the target of a homophobic attack.
A 35-year-old man from Chester was attacked and stabbed in the chest on the City Walls near the Kaleyards at about 9.20pm on Monday.
He was rushed to Royal Liverpool University Hospital for treatment and he remains in hospital.
Kaleyards is a well-known meeting place for gay people and police are not ruling out the possibility the stabbing could be a hate crime.
Detective Inspector Helen Spooner said: “While it is too early to say for sure that this is a hate crime, we do know that the area where this attack happened is a well known place that the gay community frequent, so we have to consider this as a possible motive.
“I must stress that I am keeping an open mind and there could be another motive behind the assault, but my priority at this stage is finding the man responsible for this viscous attack and ensuring the public know what has happened so they can be aware of their own safety.”
Detectives have been unable to speak to the victim, whose condition is described as serious but stable, so far and are now reviewing CCTV footage as part of the investigation.
A man who was seen running off along the City Walls following the attack has emerged as a suspect.
He is described as a white, aged in his early 20s, of slim build and was wearing dark clothing.
Police patrols have been stepped up in the area and investigating officers are urging witnesses and anyone who has any information about the stabbing to come forward.
Det Insp Spooner said: “I am particularly keen to trace a group of people near to Iceland store that were close to where the incident happened and may have vital information that could prove key to my investigation.”
A 57-year-old man from Chester was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but he has now been released and eliminated from the investigation.
Chief Inspector Richard Rees has urged people to remain vigilant and reiterated that violence of this nature was extremely rare in Chester.
He said detectives were keeping an open mind and said it was vital that anyone who has any information shared this with the police.
Chief Insp Rees said: “This is clearly a very serious and concerning incident but I want to reassure the community of Chester that this is an isolated attack and we have, and will continue to step up patrols in the area so that anyone that has any concerns or information can speak to an officer.
“ We know there was a group of people in the area at the time and we would urge them to make contact with us.
“Chester remains a very safe place to live and that perhaps makes an offence like this more alarming because it is so rare.”
“I would always encourage people to continue to follow basic safety advice and be aware of your surroundings and always tell someone where you are going and when you are due to be back.”
Anyone with any information in relation to the stabbing is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 994 of October 21.
Alternatively information can be given to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.