TWO men were "punched to the floor and kicked in the head" in a vicious homophobic attack outside a shop in Sholing.

Jamie Edwards, 33, and his partner Damian Hampton, 26, were walking to their local One Stop on December 4, as they do most mornings, but this time they were met with three youths in hoodies and balaclavas.

After quickly leaving the shop, Jamie and Damian were followed by the teenagers who were shouting homophobic abuse.

This quickly escalated into a vicious attack, as the couple were punched from behind and then "booted in the face".

Jamie said: "It happened so fast, within seconds they had caught up and punched Damian in the face. They ripped my clothes and wouldn't stop kicking us while we were on the ground.

"We had never even seen or spoke to them before, it was a totally unprovoked and unexpected attack.

"It's more of a pride thing, I had to watch my boyfriend being booted on the floor and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it."

Both victims received heavy bruising to their arms, legs and ribs, with cuts and grazes to their hands during the assault which lasted around four minutes.

33-year-old Jamie is also losing out on wages as he has had take days away from his painting and decorating job while he recovers.

The pair, who live in Sholing, were very shaken up by the whole ordeal and "refuse to ever walk to that shop again" through fear of a repeat attack.

Officers confirmed the incident is being treated as a "hate crime" and are appealing for information to help with their enquiries.

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: "We are investigating an assault which took place near the One Stop shop in North East Road, Sholing at around 3.45pm on December 4.

"Anyone with information, or who witnessed this incident, is asked to contact police on 101, quoting the reference number 44190436605."